Today, plastics are an inseparable part of our lives. They are ubiquitous, and in many cases, they perform functions that any other material cannot replicate. Plastics have revolutionized the way we live, work and play. The first synthetic plastic was Bakelite, invented in 1907 by Leo Hendrik Baekeland. It was made from a condensation reaction of phenol and formaldehyde. The resulting material was hard, heat resistant, and electrically insulating. Bakelite was initially used to produce billiard balls, radios, and telephones. During World War II, the need for plastics increased dramatically. Plastics were used in various applications, including aircraft construction and the production of ammunition.
By the end of the war, the production of plastics had increased tenfold. After the war, plastics such as polyolefins (polyethylene, polypropylene, EVA, etc.), styrene-derived polymers (PS, ABS, SB, etc.), and plasticized PVC continued to be used in a variety of applications, including the production of toys, containers, and packaging. In the 1950s, plastic became the material of choice for constructing household items such as chairs and tables. By the end of the decade, plastics were being used to produce cars and appliances.
The 1960s saw the introduction of plastic credit cards. In the 1970s, plastics were used to produce electronic devices such as calculators and watches. The 1980s saw the widespread use of plastics in office buildings and homes. The 1990s saw the introduction of biodegradable plastics.
These plastics are made from renewable resources such as corn starch or cellulose. Biodegradable plastics degrade over time and are considered more environmentally friendly than traditional plastics. PLA is the most popular and widely used biodegradable plastic right now.
The 21st century has seen the continued use of plastics in various applications. Plastics are now used in the construction of medical devices and solar panels. Plastics will continue to play an important role in our lives in the future.