When it comes to plastic there aren’t many products in our home that don’t use it in some form or other. It has become such a diverse material in its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, change shape and be different colours that we use it in everything.
Plastic is in the containers which hold your food, the pipes which carry our water, the internal components of our mobile phones, pillows, food packaging, helmets, our TV’s, our motor vehicles and even body armour.
Plastics now make up one of largest manufacturing industries in the world. In the US alone plastics produce approximately $380 billion worth of products each year.
But what did we do before plastic, and how has its invention reshaped the world we now live in?
The first plastic created was invented by a gentleman called Alexander Parks in 1862. He introduced it to the world it at a large scale London exhibition that same year. He called the plastic Parkesine. It consisted of an organic material which once heated could be moulded into a shape which remembered its shape once it had cooled.
One of the biggest benefits of the invention of plastic was costs. Prior to plastics making products of any shape was so costly that it sometimes wasn’t even profitable. The invention of plastic gave manufacturers a cost effective option to quickly mass produce products and get them to market.
Because of its light weight and ability to be moulded into any form plastic is the perfect candidate for packaging and this includes the polystyrene we find in boxes to protect our goods. So good is it that food can stay fresher for longer when packaged in plastic.
Again because of its light weight and durability plastic is an ideal candidate for its use in motor vehicles; so much so that plastic makes up about 10% of all new vehicles materials used.
You know that silicone sealant around your plastic double glazed windows? Well that’s plastic too, and its stopping energy from escaping from your home.
Talking of silicone plastic has also been used to help us enhance our own bodies. Plastic allows hospitals to achieve higher standards of hygiene as it can be sterilised and has even been used in the production of things like artificial heart valves and joints.
Plastics are everywhere we look in our lives. They are an extremely diverse material which can be used in many ways and until someone comes up with a better, more cost effective material they will be around for a long time to come.
Marpak Extrusions specialise in polythene packaging and polythene extrusion. For more information, please visit their website.