Applications and societal benefits of plastics.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This article explains the history, from 1600 BC to 2008, of materials that are today termed 'plastics'. It includes production volumes and current consumption patterns of five main commodity plastics: polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate. The use of additives to modify the properties of these plastics and any associated safety, in use, issues for the resulting polymeric materials are described. A comparison is made with the thermal and barrier properties of other materials to demonstrate the versatility of plastics. Societal benefits for health, safety, energy saving and material conservation are described, and the particular advantages of plastics in society are outlined. Concerns relating to littering and trends in recycling of plastics are also described. Finally, we give predictions for some of the potential applications of plastic over the next 20 years.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Andrady, AL; Neal, MA

Published Date

  • July 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 364 / 1526

Start / End Page

  • 1977 - 1984

PubMed ID

  • 19528050

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2873019

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2970

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-8436

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rstb.2008.0304


  • eng