Plastics: Historical and Interesting Facts
Some timeline points/notable moments in the history of the plastic industry include the discovery of polystyrene in 1839, the discovery of Parkesine in 1862, and the discovery of celluloid in 1863.
SOME TIMELINE POINTS/NOTABLE MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE PLASTIC INDUSTRY
TIMELINE - BEGINNING OF THE PLASTIC ERA WITH SEMI SYNTHETICS
- In 1839, polystyrene or PS was discovered by Eduard Simon.
- In 1862, Parkesine was discovered by Alexander Parkes.
- In 1863, cellulose nitrate or celluloid was discovered by John Wesley Hyatt.
- In 1872, polyvinyl chloride or PVC was first created by Eugen Baumann.
- In 1894, viscose rayon was discovered by Charles Frederick Cross and Edward John Bevan.
TIMELINE - THERMOSETTING PLASTICS AND THERMOPLASTICS
- In 1908, cellophane was invented by Jacques E. Brandenberger.
- In 1909, the first true plastic, phenol-formaldehyde, trade-named bakelite, was invented by Leo Hendrik Baekeland.
- In 1926, vinyl or PVC by Walter Semon invented a plasticized PVC.
- In 1927, cellulose acetate was invented.
- In 1935, low-density polyethylene or LDPE was discovered by Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett.
- In 1937, Otto Bayer and co-workers discovered and patented the chemistry of polyurethanes, trade-named igamid for plastics materials and perlon for fibers.
- In 1938, the polystyrene was made practically.
- In 1941, the polyethylene terephthalate or Pet was invented by Whinfield and Dickson.
- In 1933, Ralph Wiley, a Dow Chemical lab worker, accidentally discovered another plastic called polyvinylidene chloride, which was later called SaranTM. This plastic was first used for the protection of military equipment and later for food packaging.
INTERESTING/AMUSING/UNEXPECTED FACTS ON THE PLASTICS INDUSTRY
- The polypropylene and PVC are utilized in vehicles to reduce weight, hence, cutting fuel consumption and making vehicles safer and more comfortable.
- The PVC is also made into blood bags as well as plasma bags that ensure safe and hygienic storage of blood.
- The polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl was discovered during experiments to bond rubber to metal. The material for this research was not expensive to manufacture, and they were durable, fire-resistant, and easily molded.
SOME MIND-BOGGLING FACTS ABOUT PLASTIC THAT ARE RELATIVELY INTERESTING
- Plastic is a very resistant material to bacteria and fungi. These materials are interconnected by their molecular structures and are too big for microbes to get their biters on it and digest.
- It takes about 450 years on the average for a plastic bag to begin decomposing. It also takes another 80 years for the plastic to disappear completely.
- Every piece of plastic ever made, ever in history, is yet to begin the process of decomposing.
- Globally, over 600 billion pounds of plastic are manufactured every year and statistically speaking, that represents more than one plastic bag per minute in production.
- Over 13 billion plastic bags are produced every year, which is equal to 300 bags per adult, per year in the USA.
- About 24 million gallons of oil are needed to manufacture one billion plastic bottles, putting in mind that oil is a finite resource
- About 150,000 tons of plastic is disposed into the oceans every year, aside from visual pollution, and this pollution causes the death of over a million aquaculture lives that take plastics as food. Plastic pollution has also killed animals on the land such as goats, sheep, among others, when they mistakenly ingest it as food.
- When plastic is recycled, it can save up to two-thirds of the energy required for producing plastic from raw materials.
- Statistics have it that one recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy that can light a 60W light-bulb for about six hours.