The raw materials for plastics come from crude oil. While the term plastic describes any material one can shape or mold into any form, including some naturally occurring plastics, most of the plastics humans use today are man-made, according to HowStuffWorks.Continue Reading
Petrochemicals are rich in carbon, and most plastics are large carbon-containing molecules called polymers. A polymer includes repeating units called monomers, which are shorter chain carbon compounds. The arrangement of the carbon chains within the plastic determines its chemical properties. Once plastics form, they become chemically inert, making them ideal for storage of other materials. Alcohol, gasoline, water, soap and acids are often stored in plastic without dissolving the container. The highly moldable material forms bottles, cups, toys, car parts and insulation for electrical wiring.
Plastics are not without problems, however. As they don't react chemically, plastics are slow to decay, even when buried under the soil. Materials made of plastic remain in landfills for centuries. Many government and environmental programs recommend recycling plastics.
A second problem with plastics is that crude oil is a non-renewable natural resource. In order to combat this problem, scientists are working on new technologies to make plastics from renewable resources. Corn oil and other biological sources are potential raw materials. Such plastics are more likely to biodegrade naturally, helping with the environmental problems of plastics, according to HowStuffWorks.Learn more about Manufacturing
BPA is short for Bisphenol A. BPA is a chemical used in large quantities in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastic is found in food and drink packaging and in water bottles, and epoxy resins are found in lacquers used to coat metal.Full Answer >
As of 2015, polyethylene terephthalate and high-density polyethylene are among the most commonly used plastics for cases. Polyethylene terephthalate is typically used in pliable casings for cooking oils, bottled water and peanut butter jars. High-density polyethylene is used in molded plastic cases such as display cases, storage cases and carrying cases.Full Answer >
BPA-free products do not contain the chemical bisphenol A, which is often used in manufacturing processes to harden plastics. Humans are typically exposed to the chemical by eating food that was stored in containers with BPA.Full Answer >
Gasoline is made when refineries break down the hydrocarbons found in crude oil. Crude oil is formed from the remains of animals and aquatic plants that lived billions of years ago and have been covered in sediment and exposed to high temperatures and extreme pressure.Full Answer >