What is Plastic?
Plastics are synthetic polymers of carbon and other elements with high molecular mass. Polymers are long chains of monomers. Plastics are malleable and can be converted into solid objects also. It is used in boxes, packaging, carry bags, switches, utensils, electrical wires, fire resistant fabric etc.
Broadly plastic can be divided into following two types –
Thermoplastic polymer is a type of plastic. Thermoplastics are those plastics which can be molded again and again by use of heat. Examples of thermoplastics are polyethene, polystyrene and PVC (polyvinylchloride). Thermoplastic polymers are used in making carry bags, bottles etc.
Thermosetting plastic are those plastic polymers which cannot be molded again and again by use of heat. These are also known as thermoset polymers. Examples of thermosetting plastic are Bakelite, melamine etc. Thermosetting plastics are used in making handles of utensils, switches and fire-resistant fabric etc.
Plastics have numerous advantages and uses. Few of them are stated below –
Its production cost is low.
It can be easily molded into various shapes.
It is lightweight.
It is resistant to corrosion.
It can be translucent, transparent, and opaque as well.
It is a poor conductor of heat and electricity.
It can be used to make roads, utensils, wires, pipes etc.
It is used in construction of buildings as well.
Cheap production and easy availability make plastic very useful, but it has many shortfalls and its harmful effects are cause of huge concern for us to save our earth and ourselves. Its few disadvantages are listed below –
Natural decomposition of plastic can last from 400-1000 years and few types of plastics are non-degradable as well.
Plastic materials clog waterways, oceans, seas, lakes etc. 1 in 3 species of marine mammals have been found entangled in marine litter.
Many animals eat plastic materials and die. Over 90% of all seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomachs.
Plastic is widely used in packaging. Eating food out of plastic containers may cause cancer.
Both creation and recycling of plastic produce toxic gases and residues which causes air and water and land pollution.
Few additives such as phthalates etc. which are added in plastics to prevent its structure may cause serious hormonal imbalance in males and females.
Plastic causes many fire hazards.
Its cost of recycling is also very high.
Disadvantages of plastic bags are well known, this is the reason why use of plastic bags have been restricted in most of the countries in the world.
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