Our topic is on The World of Polymers and Plastics.
Plastic material is made up of either synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids which are malleable. Usually, plastics consist of organic polymers adding up to a high molecular mass.
Plastics have long been a part and parcel of our daily lives. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to manufacture, flexible and waterproof. With all these advantages, plastics are widely used in many products ranging from mineral water bottles to even spaceships.
Polyethylene is the most common form of plastic in the world as can be seen from grocery bags, shampoo bottles and even children’s toys.
Our Focus: HDPEs
Our team will be focusing on high-density polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is a polyethylene thermoplastic made from petroleum which will confer to its high strength. As HDPE is commonly recycled, it has the number “2” for the resin identification code.
Image Source: http://dir.indiamart.com/impcat/hdpe-products.html
Why are we focusing on HDPEs?
We are zooming in on HDPEs for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, HDPEs are among the top 3 most utilised polymers in the world. As can be seen from the following chart, HDPEs accounted for 17% of world polymer usage in 2012. That amounts to a whopping 35.87 million metric tonnes of HDPE!
Image Source: http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/7/5069/htm
Also, HDPEs, being a variation of polyethylene, are not easily biodegradable. This is because the carbon-carbon bonds in the material is very stable and requires a high amount of energy to break. Thus, micro-organisms do not readily break down polymers.
Hence, with its high usage and non biodegradable nature, it can easily be seen that HDPE has a huge impact on the environment. This is why we want to examine HDPE in detail for this course.
Ahmad, S., Mohammed, C., Shah, J., Mohd, A., Kaminsky, W., V. Aravind, P., & A. Yehye, W. (2014). The Influence of Ziegler-Natta and Metallocene Catalysts on Polyolefin Structure, Properties, and Processing Ability. Materials, 7(7), 5-5. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
Market Study: Polyethylene HDPE”. Ceresana Research.