Properties, uses and complications of plastic

Plastic is a type of material that we make by the use of the synthetic or semi-synthetic organic polymer. Although it is originally in a liquid form, we can turn it into any desired form by changing it into a solid form with the help of moulds. There are many different types of plastic that have several properties. Based on their properties, their usage can differ. Let’s talk about how these properties alter the use of different types of plastics. You can also learn more from our online or private tutors.

Plastic

Basically, the word plastic originated from the Greek word “plastikos,” which roughly translates to mould. So it is a form of liquid polymer material that can be changed to make anything that is hard and durable to bring to use for different purposes. A lot of things we use in our daily life, like a chair, a toy, a cup, a bag, and many more, are made by using plastic and changing it into different forms and various shapes.

Properties of Plastic

There are some common properties of plastic that can be noted in all types of plastics. These properties determine how a certain plastic will further be used. Here we have talked about some of the main properties of a plastic-based material.

Properties of plastic

External Force and Strength

The strength of a certain material is determined when an external force is applied to it. The point at which the material gives up and falls prey to the force tells us about the extent of its strength. When it comes to plastic, it is generally considered a very strong material. Its strength goes to a greater extent. When it is combined with some other material, it is known to gain even more strength. This is the reason plastic is used to make many things that require durable strength, like a chair, etc.

Conductivity and Insulation

Plastics are not considered good conductors of heat or electricity in the way that they do not let the heat or electricity to pass through them freely. Due to this, they are more commonly known as insulators because they offer low thermal conductivity. Unlike metals, plastics do not really have any free electrons that would allow the free flow of heat or electricity. This property of insulation in plastic parts can be quite useful. At a relatively low cost, plastics offer good insulation where required.

Degradation

Degradation of plastic parts is basically the changes that occur in it, whether chemical or physical, after some external factor has affected it like heat, electricity, moisture, or biological factors. Plastics are known for their high resistance against these factors; hence they do not degrade so easily. The plastic produced is not decomposed. As per this property, the plastic that has been produced since the beginning has never been decomposed. In the environment, the plastic that has been made can still be found because it will not be decomposed or degraded. There might be some ways like burning it in the earth where it can be attacked by the bacteria that can lead ti=o its decomposition. Otherwise, it’s not really possible to decompose plastic.

Colors and Appearance

Originally, the plastics do not have any particular color, and in this way, they are usually found to be transparent. In order to bring color to them, a particular pigment is added to the material. This makes the plastic appear colorful. Many things around us that are made of plastic with different colors were not that colorful originally. It was after the addition of pigments that the color appeared on the material. With color, plastic offers good transparency.

Melting point

Plastics usually have a low melting point. Due to this reason, it is advisable mostly to not use plastics in places where the temperature will be rather high. The average melting point of plastics is found to be around 50° C. This is a rather low melting point in contrast to other materials. Plastics will be burnt if it is placed in a place where the temperature is higher than this number. Other materials might be combined with plastic, which can help to increase the resistance of plastic to higher temperatures.

UV light and weather resistance

Most types of plastics are not very good at resisting the effects of weather and the UV light rays that are present in the sun. When these types of plastics are exposed to changing weather conditions or UV rays, it affects their composition to some extent. On the other hand, some plastics are chemically stable and have higher resistance to these conditions. This property of plastic resistance can be increased as well by combining the plastic with some other materials. Some forms of fillers or pigments can be added to the material that can help in absorbing the effecting light and will not let it have an impact on the plastic.

Uses of Plastics

Plastics are used in our daily lives one way or the other, and the uses are a lot. Although masses are now trying to raise awareness to lessen the use of plastic due to its undegradable property as it poses a serious threat to the environment, the wide use of plastics is still a part of our lives. Let’s talk about some common ways that the use of plastic is incorporated into everything around us based on the several properties of plastic.

Uses of plastics

Construction Purposes

The durability, strength, low cost, and ability to mould to other shapes are some reasons that plastic is used as a material at construction sites. While building a home, bridge, or other sites, plastic is usually added as a construction material.

plastic for construction

Automobiles

The use of plastic is constantly increasing the making of automobiles. Using plastic in the process ensures fuel efficiency in the automobile, and it also makes it more durable. Plastic in the automotive parts and aerospace parts makes it quite light in weight. This drop in the weight of the vehicle leads to a comparative drop in the fuel cost as well. This is why it’s preferable to use plastic in the making of automobiles more often than other materials.

plastic in automobiles

Product packaging

The product packaging using plastic proves to be quite beneficial. If a product, whether edible or some other, is packaged with plastic, it ensures optimum quality and makes sure that the product is preserved rightly. When a product is packaged in plastic, it can be stored for a longer period of time because the quality of the product can be maintained. If something is not packaged properly in plastic, then it might not even stay right during the journey from store to home. Recyclable containers are also made for it.

plastic in product packaging

Electronics

Plastic has great qualities like its strength, flexibility, insulation, and resistance to other external factors that make it quite a good candidate for the material as a component in different electrical equipment. The use of plastics in electronics has brought about an innovative change to the industry because now an upgraded level of high-performance products is being produced. To improve the quality of the products, many electronics industries are moving towards the use of plastic as a component in their products. From electric wires to compact disks many products involve plastic.

plastic in electronics

Safety and Protection

Currently, many working areas, whether at home or at a working site, require you to wear safety gear before you go for the task. The safety gear you are opting for needs to be durable and strong so that it will provide you with maximum protection if it has to come to an unfortunate incident. Gloves, overalls, goggles, safety helmets, and many other safety and laboratory equipment are being made with the use of plastic to ensure optimum safety. If the protective gear is not of high quality, then it will not help in the place where it should remain supportive to make sure that you are safe.

plastic in safety equipment

Complications of Using Plastics

Although it’s quite evident by now that plastic has become a great part of our daily lives. It has taken over so many products that we use and even replaced many materials. There are surely many good properties of plastics, like durability, strength, and its ability to mould into any given shape, but the main disadvantage of its use puts a lot of complication. Yes, the inability to properly dispose off plastic. Here are some main complications that arise with the use of plastic products and expansion of plastic industry.

complications of using plastic

Oceans and Marine Life

It is estimated that soon enough, the ocean body will have more plastic than the marine life that resides there. Outweighing marine life is a serious life threat for them. Usually, the fishes, turtles, and other marine animals think of the plastic in oceans as food. They swallow it thinking they are having a meal, but the plastic they just ingested, they will not be able to digest. It will remain in the body, and they will feel like their stomach is full and they don’t need to eat anymore. In reality, since they haven’t had any real food, this will lead to starvation, and the animal will eventually die. As per a rough estimation, more than a million sea animals lose their lives annually as a result of this increasing plastic content in the oceans.

Human Health

Even if we try to avoid maximum physical contact with plastic either via the air or food packaging, we are surrounded by its adverse effects that are gonna get to us. While plastic is being produced or when it is being used as a component in production, some of its chemicals seep out into the atmosphere. From there, we inhale and ingest those chemicals. Even if it’s a newborn baby, everyone becomes a victim of the inhalation effects of plastic. When it enters the body, it can cause major health problems. The major health threat is related to the lungs because when plastic goes to the lungs after inhalation, it is likely to stay there. This can lead to breathing issues and other lung diseases.

The food we consume is usually packed up in plastic food packaging with plastic additives. The plastic bottles, wrappers, or containers that have food or beverage in them add the microplastic remnants to the food that we then consume. In this way, we ingest the plastic as well.

It can lead to hormonal dysfunctioning, and major exposure to it can even lead to liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes 2.

Air pollution

The increasing use of plastic is a major cause of air pollution in the environment. The presence of chloride particles in the plastic when they are decomposed or burnt off leads the atmosphere to be heavily polluted. Lately, many cities all over the world are encountering the problem. Smog causes many health issues, and the whole area is polluted with smoke and fog-like cloud. This is a serious health and environmental threat. Recent studies have indicated that the major cause of increasing smog in the world is the chloride particles that come into the environment as a result of plastic burning or with the chemicals that arise during the production of plastics.

Climate Change

One of the biggest concerns in the world right now is rapid climate change. This climate change is leading to the melting of glaciers, extreme weather conditions like heavy heat waves, hurricanes, catastrophes, and natural disasters. All the plastic being produced is going to stay forever with us. This just does not simply end here. The plastic in the environment creates greenhouse gases that are released in the environment. These gases are a major cause of increasing climate changes all over the world. From the extraction of fossil fuels to the transportation of the product, its usage, and then disposal, the whole process leads to immense release of greenhouse gases.

Reducing the use of Plastic

Several countries all over the world are currently working on the reduction of plastic usage in the world. The increasing use of plastic in different areas of life is quite alarming. In order to handle this situation, there is a need for a proper plan to make sure that we have the right alternative with the properties of plastics with ways to replace the plastic efficiently rather than replacing it with something else that might not be equally effective or could be equally harmful.

Here are some ways that we can work on the reduction of plastic use in the environment.

reducing the use of plastic

Enforcement of policies

Firstly, the big organizations and leading personalities of the world need to brainstorm and form up some practical and workable solutions regarding the matter so that the solution can be turned into a good policy. These policies should be practical in a way that they shouldn’t be impossible to follow. They should be brought to the government level and then to the public level. The policies should be implemented worldwide because a single country following the notion will not have as much effect as it would have when the majority of countries of the world are following it.

The policies can lead us to the solution of managing plastic waste efficiently and finding alternative materials instead of the use of plastic in many things around us.

Reduce-reuse-recycle

The 3Rs actually have an impact on the current situation of the falling environments due to the use of plastic. These three Rs are reduce, reuse and recycle. Let’s talk about how these Rs can help us with this situation.

REDUCE: One of the best ways to make an impact is to reduce the amount of waste you produce by using products that involve plastic like plastic bags, disposable cups etc. This requires you to be fully aware of what you are deciding to buy and how you are going to use and waste it. Make sure to reduce the use of plastic as much as you can and wherever it seems possible to you,

REUSE: a lot of things that you simply waste and go out to harm the environment can simply be reused either in the form they are or by simply modifying them with a bit of creativity. In this way, the already in use product can be used in another way rather than going out to harm the environment. For instance, If you have a plastic bag, then go out every time when you go to buy groceries instead of buying a new on, make decoration with disposable cups.

RECYCLE: This is one of the best ways to ensure that old materials are utilized, and new ones are also being made without the production of new plastic. This process of plastic recycling involves a series of steps that lead to the formation of a new product by simply composting and altering the previous one. Companies should consider this process for the safety of the environment to make sure that they use already wasted products in such a way that they can make up new ones by mixing with other chemicals instead of just forming new batches of plastic.

Public awareness

The government and relevant organizations need to make sure that they are raising awareness against the use of plastic and what are the potential and definite adverse effects of using plastic in our daily lives. Public service messages should be given by pasting and hanging posters related to the matter. Professionals should speak at seminars about it. This should be included in the curriculum as well so that children can learn about it from the beginning at the school level. If the public is well aware of the harmful effects of plastic, the masses together can definitely make an impact to bring a change and lessen the presence of plastic in the environment.

Using Alternatives

Maximum efforts should be made to find alternative materials that can be used instead of using plastic so that its use can be minimized as much as possible. If there is no other way even researching, then it might be used for the time being, but it should be ensured that some alternative must be found. If we are using plastic soda bottles, you can change them with glass ones. Instead of plastic bags and straws, you can choose to use paper bags and paper straws. In this way, we can always find alternatives to be used instead of using plastic.

Conclusion

Plastic is made up of polymers materials. Plastic has many diversified properties that make it quite useful for many purposes. We use plastic for so many reasons in our daily lives, owing to its durability, strength, and the way it simply gets moulded to any given shape. There is one downside of its usage, and that is its inability to dispose off completely by itself. When it remains in the environment, it causes many environmental issues that are harmful to human beings.

Do you wish to learn more about how plastic usage can be minimized? Learn about it from our expert private tutors.

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