Plastic

These objects are all made out of plastic.
Amber, a naturally-occurring plastic.

A plastic is a material that can change its shape. Many things are made of plastics, usually because making them the right shape is easy. There are many types of plastic. Some can be shaped only when they are freshly made; then they become hard. Others are thermoplastic and can be softened by heating them. These plastics can be used for 3D printing, because the plastic will become soft enough to form into different shapes, and then become hard again when they cool down.

Most plastics are man-made; they do not occur in nature. The process of making plastics is usually quite complicated. Most of the materials that are called plastic are polymers. Polymers are long chains of atoms bonded to each other. In most plastics, the long chain is a chain of carbon atoms with other atoms attached to them. The different atoms and the shape and length of the chains change how the plastic looks and works.

People experimented with plastics based on natural polymers for a very long time. Alexander Parkes, an English inventor (1813-1890), created early form of plastic in 1855. It was hard but flexible and transparent. He called it "Parkesine" but now it is called "Celluloid."

Old plastics are usually thrown away and put in landfills. Some plastics release toxic fumes when heated. Some plastics are recycled so they won't become waste. Some plastics have other materials added to them, like glass, because they make the plastic stronger and stiffer.

Plastics are mostly petrochemicals, made from natural gas or from petroleum, a type of oil. Chemical engineers refine the petroleum which goes through a heating process. It develops ethylene and propylene, which are the chemical building blocks for many plastics. These chemicals are then combined with other chemicals to produce a polymer.

Today, some of these plastics are also being made without oil. Instead, other sources like plants and bacteria are used to make the plastic. These plastics are called bioplastics. They are useful because they can be eaten by other bacteria instead of throwing them away.

  • well-known plastics, and their use

Well-known plastics, and their use

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Plastiek
Alemannisch: Kunststoff
العربية: لدائن
aragonés: Plastico
অসমীয়া: প্লাষ্টিক
asturianu: Plásticu
Avañe'ẽ: Apỹipenga
azərbaycanca: Plastmas
Bahasa Banjar: Panyu
Bân-lâm-gú: Sok-ka
башҡортса: Пластмассалар
беларуская: Пластмасы
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Плястмаса
भोजपुरी: प्लास्टिक
български: Пластмаса
Boarisch: Kunststoff
bosanski: Plastika
brezhoneg: Plastik
català: Plàstic
čeština: Plast
Cymraeg: Plastig
dansk: Plast
Deutsch: Kunststoff
eesti: Plastid
Ελληνικά: Πλαστικό
English: Plastic
español: Plástico
Esperanto: Plasto
euskara: Plastiko
فارسی: پلاستیک
Frysk: Plestik
Gaeilge: Plaisteach
Gàidhlig: Plastaig
galego: Plástico
贛語: 塑料
한국어: 플라스틱
հայերեն: Պլաստմասսա
हिन्दी: प्लास्टिक
hrvatski: Plastika
Ilokano: Plastik
Bahasa Indonesia: Plastik
interlingua: Plastico
isiXhosa: I-plastiki
íslenska: Plast
עברית: פלסטיק
Basa Jawa: Plastik
қазақша: Пластмасса
Kiswahili: Plastiki
Kreyòl ayisyen: Plastik
Кыргызча: Пластмасса
latviešu: Plastmasas
Lëtzebuergesch: Plastik
lietuvių: Plastikas
Limburgs: Kónsstof
lumbaart: Plastega
magyar: Műanyag
македонски: Пластика
مصرى: بلاستيك
Bahasa Melayu: Plastik
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Só-lâiu
Mirandés: Plástico
монгол: Хуванцар
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ပလတ်စတစ်
Nāhuatl: Tecololli
Nederlands: Kunststof
नेपाल भाषा: प्लास्टिक
日本語: 合成樹脂
нохчийн: Пластмассаш
Nordfriisk: Könststof
norsk: Plast
norsk nynorsk: Plast
occitan: Plastic
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Plastik materiallar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪਲਾਸਟਿਕ
پنجابی: پلاسٹک
Patois: Plastik
português: Plástico
română: Plastic
Runa Simi: Llirpu
русский: Пластмассы
Scots: Plastic
shqip: Plastika
sicilianu: Plastica
سنڌي: پلاسٽڪ
slovenčina: Plast
slovenščina: Plastika
Soomaaliga: Bac
کوردی: پلاستیک
српски / srpski: Пластика
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Plastika
Basa Sunda: Palastik
suomi: Muovi
svenska: Plast
Tagalog: Plastik
தமிழ்: நெகிழி
татарча/tatarça: Пластмассалар
తెలుగు: ప్లాస్టిక్
ᏣᎳᎩ: ᏍᏓᎪᎢ
Türkçe: Plastik
українська: Пластмаси
اردو: پلاسٹک
vèneto: Plàstega
Tiếng Việt: Chất dẻo
Winaray: Plastik
吴语: 塑料
ייִדיש: פלאסטיק
粵語: 塑膠
中文: 塑料