Related topics: brain · neurons · synapses

Trash piles up in US as China closes door to recycling

For months, a major recycling facility for the greater Baltimore-Washington area has been facing a big problem: it has to pay to get rid of huge amounts of paper and plastic it would normally sell to China.

The environmental cost of contact lenses

Many people rely on contact lenses to improve their vision. But these sight-correcting devices don't last forever—some are intended for a single day's use—and they are eventually disposed of in various ways. Now, scientists ...

Clues emerge in 'missing' ocean plastics conundrum

It's a puzzle that has perplexed scientists for years: humanity dumps millions of tonnes of plastics into the world's oceans annually, yet only a tiny fraction remains visible on the surface.

Sustainable 'plastics' are on the horizon

A new Tel Aviv University study describes a process to make bioplastic polymers that don't require land or fresh water—resources that are scarce in much of the world. The polymer is derived from microorganisms that feed ...

Microplastics may enter foodchain through mosquitoes

Mosquito larvae have been observed ingesting microplastics that can be passed up the food chain, researchers said Wednesday, potentially uncovering a new way that the polluting particles could damage the environment.

Degrading plastics revealed as source of greenhouse gases

Researchers from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) discovered that several greenhouse gases are emitted as common plastics degrade in the environment.

Oceans of garbage prompt war on plastics

Faced with images of turtles smothered by plastic bags, beaches carpeted with garbage and islands of trash floating in the oceans, environmentalists say the world is waking up to the need to tackle plastic pollution at the ...

Green material for refrigeration identified

Researchers from the UK and Spain have identified an eco-friendly solid that could replace the inefficient and polluting gases used in most refrigerators and air conditioners.

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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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