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Boons and curses of plastic usage

Anwar Ali

Visitors: 282

Replacing several age-old materials like metal, glass, wood, paper, ceramic, cloth and leather, the plastic products have for the last few decades, become an integral part of our daily life. From waking up in the morning, to freshening up, doing household chores like cooking, going out to office, to school, for shopping, to a multiplex or a restaurant - plastic products are in use extensively anywhere and everywhere. From handwash dispensers to sophisticated car accessories, use of plastics, is increasingly growing worldwide. Plastic in its various forms is seen to be used in different industries, a major part being used in packaging. Plastic is also widely used in Polyamides, Polyester, Polyurethanes, High-density Polyethylene, Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polyvinyl Chloride, Polystyrene and Polycarbonate are the most popular forms of plastic used in a wide number of products.

Few interesting facts:

Polyamides or Nylons are used in plastic products like bristles of toothbrush

Polyester is used commonly in making fibers and the entire textile industry

Polyurethanes are one of the most popular forms of plastic used for insulation and coating

Polyethylene terephthalate or PET is used in microwave cookware, soda bottles and kitchen containers

High-density Polyethylene or HDPE have extensive use in molded cases and detergent bottles

Polyethylene or PE has use everywhere in plastic bottles, shopping bags at cheap rates

PVC or Polyvinylchloride is found in flooring, plumbing pipes, window frames

Polypropylene or PP is used in plastic products like straws for drinking, caps of bottles, gadgets and yoghurt packaging

For food packaging PVDC or Polyvinyl chloride is used

Polystyrene has common use in plastic dinnerware, cutleries, plates, food packaging and CD holders

Lenses, spectacles, compact discs and traffic lights are made of Polycarbonate

There are many other forms of plastic used in numerous other plastic products for special use. Polyimide, Silicone, Polysulfone, Polytetrafluoroethylene, Polyepoxide Furan, Polytheretherketone, Phenolics and Polylactic acid are some the special plastics used only for exclusive purposes and are thus expensive too.

Majority of the products made from plastic are known for their durability and undergo very slow degradation due to the strong chemical bonds in them. But degradation of plastic is possible due to the presence of some organic species having the capability for plastic degradation. Numerous extremely poisonous chemicals found in plastics and the microplastics found more and more in the food chain of marine animals are showing severe threats for the environment. Nurdles or bigger broken plastic pieces also are increasingly causing damage to the marine life. Prime part of marine and other wastes is caused by excessive plastic usage. Use of plastics has also a considerable effect on global warming. Recycling of thermoplastic products is possible and their reuse is also possible and there are various ways to recycle plastic but the problem lies with the categorizing of the plastic products according to the type of plastic used. The task thus becomes very much laborious.

So, though the plastic products have become an unavoidable part of our daily life, in our home, at our office, in leading industries – these have some serious effects in our environment. However, scientists are working incessantly to find out quicker and easier means of recycling plastic and incorporate them into our lives in a positive way.


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