The rise of plastics in manufacturing began during the Second World War in our country, but really got going in earnest during the 1950s and 1960s. The consumer economy was taking root, and plastics was a significant part of it.
Everything from washing machines to toys to dishwashers to automobiles to turntables was either made from plastic entirely or had plastic components.
But what are plastics?
Plastics are chains of molecules linked together. The chains themselves are called polymers, which is why many plastics begin with “poly.” Did you ever wonder where we got our company name from? Now you know! Polymers can be quite simple, made of for instance just carbon and hydrogen. Sometimes, too, they can have molecules such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, chlorine, fluorine, phosphorous and silicon.
The one word “plastics” describes all of these quite different polymers.
Where do plastics come from?
The raw material for plastics (called feed stocks) are found in many places, including plants. Some plastics actually use salt as a raw material! But the overwhelming bulk of modern plastics come from hydrocarbons originating in natural gas, oil, and coal. While plastics emanating from plants sounds greener than those coming from hydrocarbons, that’s not always the case. Without getting too detailed, suffice it to say that efficiency, availability, and environmental factors add up to mean that a smaller carbon footprint for example is created by non-plant-based feed stocks.
How are plastics created?
Plastics start out in a refinery or chemical facility as feed stocks that are processed into polymers. The polymers are molded into small pellets that are then shipped all over the country, and indeed all over the world, to be made into consumer products, including the plastic packaging that we make at Rainbow Polybag.
The plastics industry is just incredibly important to the U.S. economy, employing about a million people and contributing $375 billion to the gross domestic product.
At Rainbow Polybag we take pride in being part of such a positive and truly useful industry, making life better for people all over the country and all over the world.