Plastic is an incredibly versatile and vital material in our everyday lives, and it can be found all around us – from the bottles we drink from to car interiors and even medical devices. Here are ten facts about plastic and its many uses.
1 – Acrylic can be used to prevent light damage
UV-grade Perspex® can be used to block harmful UV light without minimising the visibility through the sheet. In fact, it’s so effective that museums and art galleries often use it to protect exhibits and precious works of art from damaging light.
2 – It can be used as a replacement for glass
Sheets of acrylic care lighter than glass, weighing less than half the weight for the same sized sheet, and are just as transparent as optical glass. It’s also shatterproof and much more durable, so it’s often used as a safer option to sheet glass for windows.
3 –It’s incredibly long-lasting
Plastic only begins to degrade after 700 years, and only fully degrades after 1000 years, so all the plastic that the world has ever produced hasn’t broken down yet and still exists.
4 – Plastic is very flexible
While it’s hardwearing and rigid, plastic and acrylic can also be moulded into virtually any shape. Whether it’s with heat, laser cutting or a process known as kerf bending (where slots are cut into the material to make it bendable), plastic’s malleable properties make it a multipurpose material to work with.
5 – It’s stronger than glass
There are various forms of acrylic which have between six and 17 times more impact resistance than glass. These forms of plastic are best suited to applications such as security shields, outdoor displays and secondary glazing.
6 – It lowers packaging weight
Without the use of plastics, packaging weight could increase as high as 400%, which would cause energy and production costs to double, and lead to an increase of 150% in material wastage.
7 – Plastic is non-conductive
Because it’s tough, versatile and doesn’t conduct electricity, plastic is often used for all types of electronics. From remote controls to TVs, kitchen appliances and computers, there’s a high chance that many of these electronics in your home are made from a variety of plastic.
8 – It’s often used in car manufacturing
Plastics are used in the manufacturing of vehicles to cut fuel costs – specifically, 105kg of plastics, versus the traditional materials that weigh over 1000kg, make it possible for over 750 litres of fuel to be saved over a lifespan of 90,000 miles. The result of this is that oil consumption is reduced by 12 million tonnes and CO2 emissions are reduced by 30 million tonnes in Europe alone.
9 – It’s an odourless material
One of the reasons that plastic can be reused so much is that it doesn’t pick up odours from food, fragrances or drinks. It’s why the Tupperware in your cupboards that you use for leftovers can be reused so many times, without absorbing anything.
10 – It can be recycled easily
Plastic is easily recyclable and can be reshaped into different products. It can also be melted down into fuel or oil, and new processes make this more efficient every day.