Introduction to Plastics:


The most wide spread material in use is synthetic or semi-synthetic polymerized product. As hydro carbon compound they are petroleum derived products from fossil feedstock. Plastics are polymeric materials comprising of thousands of ‘monomers’, i.e., a single molecule repeated in a long chain to make a polymer. Commercial plastics got a boost after the crude oil industry by-products were converted into plastics in 1950s. Sandstones and limestone are the major habitats of oil. Planktons and Algae matter under a chemical reaction in anoxic environment forms Kerogen.The oil is the source of plastics and we can presume if the reserves of oil will end, then the plastics would also come to an end. The plastics are moldable, durable, low density, lightweight, corrosion resistant, inexpensive and water and shock resistant. Plastic use came into every walk of life; it completely changed the living styles after it was introduced. Fifty years back, advent of commercial plastics was a Disruptive Technology.

Plastics as organic polymers of high molecular mass comprise mainly the following:

• Polyethylene (PE)

• Polypropylene (PP)

• Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

• Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

• Polystyrene (PS)

• Polyamide (PA)/nylon

Among these PE and PP are less dense than sea water and tend to be buoyant, whereas PS, PA and PET are denser and tend to sink.


The global plastic product market is growing @ 3% /year and was worth $ 1.06 trillion in 2018 with expected worth $ 1.175 trillion in 2020.


In India growth of plastic market is higher than its GDP growth at 9%. Plastics industry has been an important contributor to the Indian economy, employing around 4 million people. Plastic consumption in India is estimated as 12.8 million ton/year.As of 2020, India’s total plastic waste generation was about 35,940 tonnes per day.

Composition of plastic waste in India


On an average, 9-10% waste is recycled. In India about 40% of plastic is recycled. India’s per capita plastic consumption is 11kg/year against the world average of 28 kg. With increasing urbanization and rising proportion of middle class consumers, the Indian packaging industry is expected to grow at a notable Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.2% over 2016-2021.

During the period of 2016-2021, the soft drinks and food industry will be the highest packaging market share gainers, with a growth share of 3.4% and 1.3% respectively.

Types of Plastics and Applications:

If not managed properly, these plastic items such as thermocol, Styrofoam, transparent and colored plastics, only tend to break down into smaller particles and stay in the environment for long duration. Due to long life of plastics of about 450 years, plastics gets disposed on land and collected into landfills. On reaching the water bodies they either continue to stay suspended, or settle in the sediments, blocking transfer of oxygen and percolation of water through the soil. The critical issue is plastics pollution impact on human health.