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Fantastic Plastics : Fantastic Plastics 2011
Plastic is everywhere – it’s throughout our home, our workplace, our car, the bus and train, at the sports field and playground. But what is it exactly? In the broadest sense, plastic is a material that at some stage in its manufacture is able to be shaped by flow, such that it can be extruded, moulded, cast, spun or applied as a coating. The main element of plastic is petroleum waste including crude oil, gas and coal. The Plastics and Chemicals Industry Association (PACIA) states ‘that much of the raw materials for plastics comes from waste in petroleum refining - some of which would otherwise be flared off and wasted’. Plastic is made through a polymerisation process; where a series of reactions make small molecules that are combined (through heat or pressure), eventually joining to form a stable solid material. This solid material is commonly referred to as nurdels or pellets. Once the raw material is produced, additives are included enabling the plastic to be manipulated into various shapes, sizes and colours which differ in consistency. What is plastic? Tupperware’s founder, Earl Tupper, invented a way to use waste polyethylene slag from the oil refining process to create light-weight, non-breakable plastic containers. His vision to transform this material into reusable products helped shape the plastics revolution. 3