Plastic Waste- Types and Impact

Plastic is a polymeric material whose molecules are very large, often resembling long chains made up of a seemingly endless series of interconnected links. The researchers estimated that more that 300 million tons of plastics are produced every year and 50% are used for single purposes. In this article, we are giving a short on the plastic waste, its types and impact on the environment.
Apr 29, 2019 14:58 IST
Plastic Waste- Types and Impact

When we heard the term 'plastic' three thing comes in our mind i.e. indestructible, durable and its versatile properties. But these properties of plastic now become environmental issues. Plastic is a generic name referring to certain synthetic or semisynthetic materials that can be moulded or extruded into objects or films or filaments or used for making e.g. coatings and adhesives. The researchers estimated that more that 300 million tons of plastics are produced every year and 50% are used for single purposes.

Types of Plastic

There are mainly seven types of plastic which are given below:

1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET): It is thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family. It is recyclable.

PET plastics

2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE): It is a thermoplastic polymer made from the monomer ethylene. It is recyclable.

HDPE Plastic

3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): It is a solid plastic made from vinyl chloride. It is recyclable.


4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE): It is a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene through high pressure process via free radical polymerization.

LDPE plastics

5. Polypropylene (PP): It is a thermoplastic polymer which is produced via chain-growth polymerization from the monomer propylene. It is not recyclable.

PP plastic

6. Polystyrene or Styrofoam (PS): It is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer made from the monomer styrene. It is not recyclable.

PP plastics

7. Polycarbonate, polylactide, acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene, styrene, fiberglass, and nylon: It is not recyclable.

Plastic form

What is the difference between Biodegradation and Bioremediation?

What is Plastic Waste?

The accumulation of plastic objects which are dump without any scientific process is plastic waste. It can be primary plastics, such as cigarette butts and bottle caps, or secondary plastics. This type waste is also categorised through their which may varies from microplastics - small particles (<5 mm) of plastic dispersed in the environment - to macroplastics.

Impact of plastic waste

The plastic waste has a significant impact on land, oceans, animal and human. More than 50% of plastics are not degradable and only a small percentage of plastics can be recycled. Hence, they will remain intact where they are discarded until they are cleared up.

1. Impact on land: When the chlorinated plastics, dump in the soil, then it not only affect the soil, but also the surrounding water sources and also surrounding ecosystem because it release harmful chemicals.

2. Impact on oceans: The researchers estimated that more than 165 million tons of plastic wastes are dumped in the world's ocean. These plastics affect the plankton, fish, and ultimately the human race because some of the marine species are consumed by the human and through the food chain, ingest these highly toxic carcinogens and chemicals. Consuming the fish that contains these toxins can cause an increase in cancer, immune disorders, and birth defects.

New type of plastic which can be recycled

Recycling is an important way to ensure sustainability and a green environment for the future generation. The National Laboratory’s Peter Christensen under the leadership of Lawrence Berkeley has developed new plastics which can be recycled easily as compare to the traditional plastics. They uses triketones and amines for the building-block monomers.

What are Biogeochemical Cycles?