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Environment / General Knowledge

Understanding Plastic

Understanding Plastic

Plastic as we all know, is not natural substance, but manufactured. So what? Anything that is not natural is produced or manufactured through a special process. Not all artificial substances are good for human beings as well as the environment.


The word Plastic has its origin from the Greek word “Plastikos”, meaning “to mould”. Plastic is made from Organic Chemicals. Organic Chemicals contain Carbon as one of its compounds.

Plastic was invented by Alexander Parkes of England in 1862 and hence called “Parkesine” after him in earlier days. Parkesine was the first plastic produced. Manufacturing of Plastic for the first time was started on a commercial level by Leo Hendirk Backeland. It was made from Phenol and Formaldehyde.

Modern technology for producing Plastic uses many raw materials to manufacture different kinds of plastic products. Many Plastic products have “Poly” in their names. Polyethene is one such example. The word “Poly” again comes from a Greek word, meaning “Many”. Many molecules of Ethene are joined together in the making of Polythene.

Majority of Plastics are made from chemicals found in oil. Others come from Wood, Coal and Natural Gas. Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), Polyethene, Polystyrene and Nylon are the common types of Plastic.

Plastic in our life

Plastic has become an integral part of our life having an endless use in our day to day life. Lenses and Window panes are made from clear transparent Plastic. Toys, Lunch Boxes, Food Containers, Carry Bags, Buckets, Cups, Glasses and many such products are used by us in our daily life. Plastic is used for making Surgical Products as well.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET and PETE) is most common, used for making Food-Grade Plastic Products and Containers. PET is a member of the Polyester family.

Plastic a menace to the Environment

Though Plastic is very useful, the products made out of Plastic pose a great danger to Humans, Animals, Plant Life as well as the whole Environment. Since it is not an Organic Product, it does not decay even after a long time. Plastic waste when accumulated at one place is dangerous. It could be consumed by stray animals searching for remains of food. It will not get digested and sometimes choke the animals to death.

The world is fighting to stop the dangers caused by Plastic products. The immediate solution is to reduce the usage of Plastic products and use Plastic made out of Natural compounds. Use of Bio-Degradable Plastics must be promoted wherever we can not replace Plastic Products with alternative solutions.

While you are on a picnic or an adventure trip, never throw used plastic bottles here and there – especially in the rivers and sea.

If you have to use Plastic products – especially Plastic Containers – to store food items, use only quality products even though that may be little expensive. Storing food items in Plastic Containers for a long time can harm your health. Recycled Plastic products can be harmful.

Many countries have implemented ban on Plastic products especially Single-Use Plastic products. Use them wisely and save the Planet.

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.


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