Although it is easy to classify everything as plastic, here are some of the most common examples of plastics.
Examples of Most Common Plastics
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Introduced by James T. Dickson and J. Rex Whinfield in 1940, this is one of the most common and widely used plastics in the world. Curiously, another 30 years had to pass since its invention, before this plastic was used in the manufacture of transparent bottles for drinks, as used by Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
This plastic makes up 96% of all plastic bottles and containers in the United States alone, but only 25% of them are recycled.
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
This is another example of more common plastics , which was created in 1953 by Karl Ziegler and Erhard Holzkamp, using catalysts and low pressure. This plastic was first used for pipes in storm sewers, drains, and culverts. Today this plastic is used in a wide variety of products.
The HDPE plastic is the most common plastic recycling because it is not broken upon exposure to the heat or extreme cold. According to the EPA, 12% of all products made with HDPE plastic are recycled in one year. This is a very small dent in the carbon footprint of the planet.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
It is one of the oldest synthetic materials in industrial production. It is actually a plastic that was accidentally discovered twice: first in 1838 by the French physicist Henri Regnault and again in the year 1872 by the German chemist Eugen Baumann.
It is worth mentioning that PVC is one of the least recycled materials, since generally less than 1% of PVC plastic is recycled each year. It has even been called “poisonous plastic” because it contains numerous toxins and is also harmful to health and the environment .
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
It is the first polyethylene that was produced, so it is basically considered the godfather of the material. It has less mass than HDPE plastic, which is why it is considered a separate material for recycling .
Containers that are made from LDPE make up about 56% of all plastic waste . 75% of this packaging comes from residential homes.
This plastic was discovered in 1951 by J. Paul Hogan and Robert L. Banks. At the time, they were looking to simply convert propylene into gasoline, but they discovered a new catalytic process for making plastic. Only 3% of products made with polypropylene plastic are recycled in the United States.