What is Plastic?
Plastics are high-performance materials with very different properties and can be found in the world around us in many different forms and applications.
A look around our surroundings will depict that most of the objects are made of plastics. If a list is written down then it will be observed that seventy to eighty percent of things around us are either directly obtained from plastics or have plastic components in them. For example, plastic chairs, tables, plates, umbrella, hangers, boxes, etc.
Polythene (poly + ethene) is an example of plastic and is commonly used for making polythene bags. Plastic is a polymer which has different types of arrangement of the monomer unit. They can have a linear structure, branched or a cross-linked structure.
Recycling of plastics wastes normally involves a series of treatment and processing stages such as collection, sorting, milling, washing and drying and reprocessing. During the service life of plastic products properties of plastic degrade due to long exposure to sunlight, air, water, weathering, and chemical reactions.
The steps involved in mechanical recycling of plastic wastes are
- Collection and sorting plastic wastes
- Shredding, cleaning and sorting plastic resin types
- Reprocessing of plastic
- Degradation of plastic during reprocessing
Types Of Plastics
There are many classifications for plastics, one of the most basic classification is based on its heat management nature. They have been broadly classified into two.
There are many plastic articles that are easily bent whereas some of the articles break on forced bending. These bottles get deformed if hot water is kept in them. Such plastics that get deformed on heating are known as thermoplastics. For example polythene and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). They are largely used for making toys, combs and various types of containers.
On the other hand, plastics that once molded do not change their dimensions on heating are known as thermosetting polymers.
Uses of Plastic
Bakelite and melamine are two examples in this case.
- Bakelite is a poor conductor of electricity and therefore it is used for making electrical switches, handles of various utensils, etc.
- Melamine is a versatile material and can resist fire. Therefore it is used for making kitchen wares and fabrics that need fire resistance.
Advantages of Plastic
The following properties of plastic make it the material of choice for making many articles:
Plastics are non-reactive:
Most of the metals get corroded by air and water. But plastics do not react with air or water. So they cannot be corroded easily. Therefore it is used for making many utensils and storing various chemicals.
Plastics are light, strong and durable:
The articles made up of plastics are very light. Plastic being light, strong and durable can be molded into many shapes and sizes as required by the user. They are cheaper than metals and hence widely used in making various household products.
Plastic is a poor conductor:
They are poor conductors of heat and electricity and therefore plastics are used for coating electric wires and switches. The handles of frying pans are also made up of plastic due to this property.
The article describes the properties which make plastics very useful. For any further query on this topic install Byju’s learning app.