10 Interesting things about plastic firstly, is the word plastic has existed for a lot longer than the plastics we know. Plastic is derived from the Latin word plasticus and the Greek word plastikos, both meaning “able to be moulded”. It was probably used in relation to clay before it was fired in a kiln.
The second interesting things about plastic is the first natural plastic was developed in 1855 by, Alexander Parkes, to be used as a replacement for ivory. It was unveiled at the 1862 Great Exhibition in London and called Parkesine. The first synthetic plastic was invented by Leo Baekeland in the 1900’s. Leo developed a process to produce mouldable synthetic resins and Bakelite was born.
After the First World War, the plastics industry mushroomed. Polystyrene and polyvinyl were early plastics.
Most synthetic plastics are made from oil and are often mixed with other chemicals, these that can be poisonous when they leach out of packaging.
The Impact Of Plastic
The impact of plastic starts from the energy used to manufacture it, all the way to the difficulty in disposing of it. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that has been produced with only nine percent being recycled, with almost every bit of plastic made still exists.
There are many positive uses of plastic preserving the freshness of food and drinks, facilitating the manufacture of renewable energy sources like solar cells and wind turbines and it can reduce the weight of vehicles, cutting fuel use and CO2 emissions.
Plastics are generally non-biodegradable and they take centuries to decay. Its use is often unnecessary like why buy bananas in a plastic bag as they’re already wrapped!
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the name given to a collection of marine debris mostly comprising plastic in the North Pacific Ocean.
Scientists in the Netherlands are developing an ocean cleaning system which uses the ocean’s currents and a barrier to remove plastic waste. A 100 km long system will be deployed in 2020 to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The Beijing subways are allowing travellers to use plastic bottles as a form of payment to encourage recycling.