Plastic 101: Why Do We Want It?

Plastic 101: Why Do We Want It?
article writer
by Keith McCauley
September 8, 2020, Updated October 28, 2022

Let's talk plastic. Take a quick look around you and make an inventory of everything you see that is plastic. Your cell phone case. The chair you're sitting in. The vinyl insulating your computer's power cord. Your glasses or contact lenses. It is also found in your car, clothes, and household appliances. Plastic is a relatively new material, with innovations beginning almost 200 years ago, and major breakthroughs occurring about 100 years ago. And now we use and depend on plastic every single day.

What is Plastic?

The basic definition of plastic is anything that can be shaped or molded when soft into any form and then hardened. There are a few naturally occurring plastic materials, but most plastics that we use today are synthetic.

Why Plastic?

Why is plastic such a useful material? Here are just a few reasons why it has become so popular:

  • Most plastics are chemically inert. That means that they won't react with other chemicals. Take, for instance, household cleaners. These contain corrosive ingredients that can damage skin and eyes. But when they are stored in plastic containers, the containers won't dissolve or disintegrate.
  • Plastics are light and durable. Before plastic became regularly used for containers, bottles and jars were often made of glass or pottery. These containers were heavy and dangerous when broken. Now they are lighter and often safer when broken.
  • Plastics can be molded into many different shapes. They can be formed into bottles, lids, toys, car parts, shoes, clothes, and many different other shapes.
  • Plastic is extremely versatile in its uses. It comes in films for wrap and bags. It can be injected with air, creating Styrofoam. It also makes great insulation, siding, bottles, circuit boards, and airplane parts. Each of these plastics has unique properties. Some are rigid, others flexible. Plastics might be clear, opaque, or colored. They can be electrical or thermal insulators, or may be produced into tiny fibers suitable for clothes.
  • Overall, plastic is an inexpensive material. This, along with the other properties, makes plastic a very desirable material for the consumer market.

These are just a few of the reasons why plastic has become so prevalent over the past 100 years. At Container & Packaging Supply, we offer hundreds of different plastic containers and closures to meet your needs. Stay tuned, because next time we are going to learn how it is made.