The Plastic

Plastics are derived from organic, natural materials, such as cellulose, coal, and natural gas, salt and, of course, oil. Oil is a complex mixture of thousands of compounds and must be processed before being used. Plastic production begins with distillation in a refinery, where crude oil is separated into groups of lighter components, called fractions. Each fraction is a mixture of hydrocarbon chains (chemical compounds formed by carbon and hydrogen) that differ in terms of the size and structure of their molecules. One of those fractions, naphtha, is the essential compound for the production of plastic. Two main processes are used to make plastic: polymerization and polycondensation, and both require specific catalysts. In a polymerization reactor, monomers such as ethylene and propylene join to form long chains of polymers. Each polymer has its own properties, structure and dimensions depending on the type of basic monomer that has been used. There are many different types of plastic, and they can be grouped into two main families of polymers: 1-Thermoplastics (which soften with heat and harden when cooled) 2-The thermostable (which never soften once molded).

The plastic is a semi synthetic or sometimes totally synthetic material and it is used in very different applications.

We use plastic products to make life cleaner, easier, safer and more pleasant. We find plastic in containers, clothes, buildings, medical devices, cars, mobiles.

Plastics are organic materials, just like wood, paper or wool. The raw materials that are used to produce plastic are natural products such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and, of course, oil. They have become the preferred modern material because it balances the needs of today with the protection of the environment.


The term "plastic" comes from the Greek "plastikos" which means that it can be molded. It refers to the malleability, or plasticity, of the material during manufacture, which allows it to be melted, pressed or extruded to obtain different shapes, such as sheets, fibers, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, etc.

The rules are important. They allow us to trust that a product will be suitable for its purpose and also in its quality and safety. That a standard is international means that a plumber in Finland can buy a PVC pipe for drinking water and fit a valve purchased in Italy because its diameters are in accordance with a European standard.

The packaging is a good example of standardization. To comply with the legislation, a plastic container (a bottle, a tray, a sheet, etc.) that must come into contact with food has to prove that it is safe for the consumer. The only way to prove it is with the fulfilment of a norm. The standard describes the test method to determine the total migration of substances from the container to the food and the limits within which a material can be classified as safe for the purpose of contact with food.

Plastics cover a large family of materials that can be classified into several types. In this section, you will find more information about the different types of plastics and the applications and advantages of each one.

Bioplastics are made entirely or partly from renewable biological resources. For example, sugarcane is processed to make ethylene, which in turn is used to make polyethylene. The starch can be processed to produce lactic acid and subsequently polylactic acid (PLA).


The properties of bioplastics can vary considerably depending on the material. Bioplastics or partially organic durable plastics, such as PE, PET or PVC, have the same properties as their conventional versions. These bioplastics can only be distinguished from conventional plastics with a scientific analysis.


Bioplastics, such as mixtures of starch, PLA, bio-PET and bio-PE are mainly used for packaging. They are also used in the form of fibers in the textile sector. Biosuccinic acid is suitable for various applications in sports and footwear, automotive, packaging, agriculture, fiber applications and non-woven fabrics. In 2016, about 5.1 million tons of bioplastic applications were produced; and production is expected to have increased to 7.2 million tons by 2022 (Bio-Based World News).