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What are the different types of plastics?

Maeon lab
What are the different types of plastics?

Understanding the many forms of plastic is essential to comprehending the intricacy of recycling, upcycling, and the health implications of plastic. But complexity is the essential word there. Since there is a lot to cover, this essay is just meant to serve as a starting point for individuals who know little to nothing about the subject and not as an in-depth analysis for those who are already knowledgeable.

Plastics are everywhere in the world. Whether you are aware of it or not, almost everything that you see and use on a daily basis is made of plastic in some capacity. Your television, computer, car, house, refrigerator, and many other necessary items are made of plastic to simplify and ease your life. But not all plastics are created equal. Manufacturers use a wide range of various plastic materials and compounds, each of which has specific qualities.


The stated goal was to “provide a consistent national framework to encourage recycling of post-consumer plastics.” Following a few minor changes, the RIC has been accepted as the global standard plastic categorization.


PET is an aliphatic polyester made of polyethylene. When stable, it takes on a semi-crystalline structure. It is utilised in commonplace goods and is easily recyclable. It is used in everything from packaging to fabrics and films to moulded parts for cars and electronics. It exhibits resistance to moisture, solvents, alcohols, and impacts.

PET, also known as polyethylene terephthalate, is a member of the polyester family. It is extensively utilised in daily products and is readily recyclable. When stable, it takes on a semi-crystalline structure. Due to its low weight, flexible and rigid packaging are used most frequently.

One of the plastics that plays a significant role in your daily life is PET. The polymer is utilised in a variety of products, including fabrics, films, packaging, automotive, electronic, and other moulded parts.


Technically known as HDPE, this incredibly durable plastic is utilised in a variety of products, including shampoo bottles, playground equipment, milk jugs, recycling bins, and shopping bags. It is more thicker and stronger than PET because it is formed of long, unbranched polymer chains. It is also fairly tough, impact-resistant, and resistant to temperatures up to 120 °C without suffering any negative effects. Because HDPE is one of the most easily recycled plastic polymers, it is accepted for disposal at the majority of recycling facilities worldwide.


As a synthetic plastic polymer, polyvinyl chloride is the third most extensively produced in the world. There are essentially two types of it: rigid and flexible. PVC is frequently used in the building and construction sector to create pipes and profiles for doors and windows (drinking and wastewater). It can be made softer and more flexible when combined with other materials and used for flooring, wiring, and plumbing insulation.

PVC is now replacing conventional building materials including wood, metal, concrete, rubber, ceramics, etc. in a variety of applications because of its adaptable qualities, such as lightness, durability, and ease of processing.


Low-density molecules distinguish LDPE from HDPE, which results in a thinner and more flexible resin. It has the most straightforward structure of any plastic, making production easy and inexpensive. It is not frequently recycled through curbside programmes, despite being used in plastic bags, six-pack rings, various containers, dispensing bottles, and most infamously for plastic wraps.


Polypropylene (PP) is a propylene monomer-based thermoplastic “addition polymer.” It is used in a variety of applications such as consumer product packaging, plastic parts for various industries such as the automotive industry, special devices such as living hinges, and textiles.

Polypropylene is a “thermoplastic” material (as opposed to a “thermoset”), which describes how the plastic reacts to heat. Thermoplastic materials become liquid when they reach their melting point (roughly 130 degrees Celsius in the case of polypropylene)


The sixth type of plastic on the list is polystyrene, which can be solid or foamed. Because it is a low-cost resin per unit weight and simple to manufacture, it can be found in a variety of applications, including beverage cups, insulation, packing materials, egg cartons, and disposable dinnerware. Styrofoam, perhaps better known by its commercial name, is highly flammable and dangerous because it can leach harmful chemicals when heated (which happens frequently because it’s found in disposable take-out containers, and people frequently microwave it to heat up the food inside it).

Environmentally, it is one of the worst types of plastic: first, it is not biodegradable. Second, because of its low specific gravity, polystyrene foam floats on water and blows in the wind. Animals do not recognise it as artificial and may mistake it for food, causing serious health effects in birds and marine animals that consume it.

7. Other Plastics

If plastic cannot be identified in the six types listed above, it will be classified as group number 7. The most well-known plastics in this class are polycarbonates (PC), which are used to make strong, durable products. Polycarbonates are commonly used in the manufacture of lenses for sunglasses, sports and safety goggles. They can, however, be found on mobile phones and, more frequently, compact discs (CD).

The use of these resins has been controversial in recent years, owing to their leaching, which occurs at high temperatures and releases bisphenol A, a compound on the list of potentially hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, because BPA does not decompose in landfills, it will remain in the ground and eventually find its way into water bodies, contributing to aquatic pollution. Furthermore, plastic number 7 is almost never recycled.

For more information about plastics visit: Plastic Material Testing

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