The word plastic is derived from
the Greek (plastikos) meaning capable
of being shaped or moulded,
from (plastos) meaning moulded. It
refers to their malleability, or
plasticity during manufacture, that
allows them to be cast, pressed,
or extruded into a variety of shapes —
such as films, fibres, plates, tubes,
bottles, boxes, and much more.
Plastic are materials formed by
long chains of carbon and
hydrogen called polymers,
formed by units called
monomers. The most important
characteristic of plastic is the
capacity of deformation.
Most of the plastics are made up from
these three raw materials:
•Non – Renewable
•Non – Renewable
•Non – Renewable
Plastics are made from fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels contains hydrocarbons, which provide
small building blocks called monomer.
These hydrocarbons monomers are link together
to form long carbon chains called polymers.
The process of forming long molecules is called
The polymerization form viscous, sticky
substances known as resins, which are used to
make plastic products.
For e.g., ethylene is a gaseous hydrocarbon.
When it is subjected to heat, pressure, and
certain catalysts, the ethylene molecules join
together into long, repeating carbon chains.
These joined molecules form a plastic resin
known as polythene.
Plastics are strong , light weight, flexible and
Plastics show superior optical properties
(clarity, gloss and colour)
Plastics can be easily moulded into a variety
of shapes and sizes.
Plastics have excellent mechanical strength
(tensile properties, tear resistance, and
Plastics are relatively cheaper than compared
to metals like steel, tin etc.
Plastics are reusable and recyclable.
Plastics have long use age life.
are good electricity and
Plastics do not corrode or decay.
Plastics are cheap and dispensable.
Plastics are resistant to chemicals,
water or grease.
Groups of Plastic
softened by heating
and hardened by
being heated once.
Annual increase of
Production = 9%
Plastics in municipal
solid waste = 11.8%
Percentage of Plastic used in different fields
can either be non –
biodegradable or degrade very slowly.
Plastics are flammable and release
toxic fumes when burned.
Plastics can contaminate foods with
dangerous chemical compounds.
Plastics usually have low melting points
and therefore expand with heat.
Plastics are not as strong as metals.
of thermoplastics, and 20% of
thermo set plastic wastes are
generated in India.
The use of plastics in India is 3kg per
person per year.
The total consumption of plastic in
India is about 4 million tonnes and the
waste generated is about 2 million
About 20% of solid municipal wastes
are plastics in India.
Plastic is one of the few new chemical
materials which pose environmental
Plastic in the environment is regarded
to be more an aesthetic nuisance than
a hazard, since the material is
biologically quite inert.
Plastic is cheap, it gets discarded
easily, and, its persistence in the
environment can do great harm.
Plastic is a part of our lives.
People use plastics in a variety of ways
ranging from household appliances to
industrial and commercial products.
The production of plastics is growing
about 9% annually.
According to an estimate about 100 million
tonnes of plastics is produced every year
all over the world.
The major chemicals used in the manufacture of
plastics are highly toxic.
Plastic which is made from petroleum, is a
material that the earth cannot digest.
These toxic chemicals (benzene, vinyl
chloride, xylems and biphenyl A) pose serious
threat to living beings of all species on earth.
Benzene and vinyl chloride are confirmed
In the environment, plastic breaks down into
smaller and smaller particles, that absorb toxic
chemicals, are ingested by wildlife on land and in
the ocean and enter human food chain.
End of life
Use of plastics
Plastic pollution on land is both physical and
Plastic reduces soil fertility by forming the part
of manure for years.
Plastic spoil environmental aesthetics and
Plastics in landfills emit hazardous VOCs during
Plastics in soil can lessen the growth of plants
and trees by blocking the absorption of
minerals, water and other nutrients.
Plastics can cause land slides.
Industries emit large amounts of carbon
monoxide, dioxin and hydrogen cyanide.
These gaseous pollutants contaminate air
and causes respiratory diseases, nervous
system disorders and immune suppression
in human beings.
Plastics wastes dumped in water courses
contaminate and poisons freshwater life.
On leaching in water, plastic can easily enter
the human food chain and harm human health.
Plastic debrises clog the sewage drains and
create stagnant water which will be an ideal
habitat for mosquitoes and other parasites.
Chocked drains cause flooding during
Discarded Plastic usually ends up within marine
sources. The Pacific Ocean has one of the largest
dumping ground for plastics, unknown numbers of sea
birds marine mammals and fish ingest plastics which
causes a variety of negative health effects and
leading to their deaths.
Effects of plastics on marine life includes
entanglement and ingestion of plastics debris by
Over a million sea birds and mammals die annually
from ingestion of plastics.
Plastic is mistaken for food and is eaten up by
birds, turtles, seals, and whales. This may choke
them, or impede digestion and causing starvation.
Toxic chemicals contained in plastics cause
neurological problems, cancer, birth
defects, hormonal changes gastric ulcer, thyroid
problems and cardiovascular disease.
The endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in plastics
have been contributing to obesity and diabetes.
The plastic bottles may leach cancer – causing
chemicals such as phthalates (a component makes
plastic pliable) and Bis – phenol A ( a component
Bis – phenol A(BPA) a synthetic estrogens, can
affect the hearts of the women and can permanently
damage DNA of mice.
Disposing of plastic waste is trickier than
dealing with other traditional landfill
material. Not only does plastic take
thousands of years to break down, it can
leach dangerous poison into the
environment. Plastic is not going away, but
how plastic waste is managed is becoming
more sophisticated. Managing plastic
waste starts at home with the
consumer, but ultimately depends on
governments around the world as well.
Methods to convert waste plastics into
hydrocarbon fuel have been in development for
decades. But the associated costs to
commercialize the technologies were
prohibitive in previous years when crude oil was
As costs for crude oil have risen, concerns
about energy security and the environment are
renewing efforts in plastics-to fuel recycling
processes. Scientists hope the technologies
will soon provide the nation with
cheaper, alternative fuels that can help reduce
foreign oil dependency.
Plastic recycling is the process
of recovering scrap or waste plastic and
reprocessing the material into useful
products, sometimes completely different in
form from their original state. For
instance, this could mean melting down soft
drink bottles and then casting them as
plastic chairs and tables. Typically a plastic is
not recycled into the same type of
plastic, and products made from recycled
plastics are often not recyclable.
Bioplastics are a form of plastics derived from
renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats
and oils , corn starch or micro biota .Common
plastics, such as fossil-fuel plastics, are derived
from petroleum. These plastics rely more on scarce
fossil fuels and produce more greenhouse gas.
Some, but not all, bioplastics are designed
to biodegrade. Bioplastics which are designed to
biodegrade can break down in either anaerobic or
aerobic environments, depending on how they are
manufactured. There is a variety of bioplastics being
made; they can be composed of
starches, cellulose, or other biopolymers. Some
common applications of bioplastics are packaging
materials, dining utensils, food packaging, and
Plasma pyrolysis or plasma gasification is a
waste treatment technology that gasifies
matter in an oxygen-starved environment
to decompose waste material into its basic
molecular structure. It uses high
electrical energy and high temperature
created by an electrical arc gasifies and
does not combust the waste as
incinerators do. This arc breaks down
waste primarily into elemental gas and
solid waste (slag), in a device called a
carry bags at
- Can be a
Lead by example
Ask your friends and family to join you
Speak to city council
Write letters to government officials
Get your school involved.
Plastic Waste Management has assumed great
significance in view of the urbanisation
Various strategies are being devised to
mitigate the impact of plastic waste in India.
Some significant challenges still exist from
both technological factors and from economic
or social behaviour issues relating to the
substitution for virgin material.
Mahatma Gandhi –
―You must be the change if you wish to see
in the world‖.
Time for a new ethic :
Save yourself and you save the environment.