Related topics: brain · neurons · synapses

Ban on hotel toiletries is latest effort to curb plastic waste

Love those dainty little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and hand lotion in hotel bathrooms? Do you take them home, use them for guests or donate them to the local homeless shelter? You won't be able to for much longer—states, ...

Can science break its plastic addiction?

Lucy Gilliam has an infectious passion for environmental action. Today, she works in Brussels on environmental transport policy. But in the early 2000s, she was a molecular microbiologist in Hertfordshire. Like many in her ...

Scientists, here's how to use less plastic

The lab is quietly bustling with scientists intent on their work. One gestures to an item on her bench—a yellow container, about the size of a novel. It's almost full to the brim with used plastic pipette tips—the disposable ...

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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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