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UM study finds microplastic pollution in Flathead Lake

They're in our oceans and rivers. They're in the food we eat and the water we drink. They've even been detected inside the human body. They're called microplastics—particles of plastic so small they can't be seen by the ...

New PET-like plastic made directly from waste biomass

It is becoming increasingly obvious that moving away from fossil fuels and avoiding the accumulation of plastics in the environment are key to addressing the challenge of climate change. In that vein, there are considerable ...

What is BPA and why is it in so many plastic products?

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical widely used to make hard, clear plastics. It is an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to many negative health effects, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In 2013, the ...

Upcycling plastics through dynamic cross-linking

If bioengineers can upcycle commodity plastics into higher-performance materials, they can establish sustained closed-loop manufacturing with broader industrial and environmental benefits. For example, upcycled plastics can ...

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Plastic

Plastic is the general common term for a wide range of synthetic or semisynthetic organic amorphous solid materials suitable for the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular weight, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce costs.

The word derives from the Greek πλαστικός (plastikos) meaning fit for molding, and πλαστός (plastos) meaning molded. It refers to their malleability, or plasticity during manufacture, that allows them to be cast, pressed, or extruded into an enormous variety of shapes—such as films, fibers, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, and much more.

The common word plastic should not be confused with the technical adjective plastic, which is applied to any material which undergoes a permanent change of shape (plastic deformation) when strained beyond a certain point. Aluminum, for instance, is plastic in this sense, but not a plastic in the common sense; while some plastics, in their finished forms, will break before deforming and therefore are not plastic in the technical sense.

There are two types of plastics: thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics, if exposed to enough heat, will melt. Thermosets will keep their shape until they are charred and burnt. Some examples of thermoplastics are grocery bags, piano keys and some automobile parts. Examples of thermosets are children's dinner sets and circuit boards.

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