Plastic containers are enclosures fabricated from plastic that are made to contain items. Plastic containers can be categorized according to their shape, size, application, or function. Like plastic boxes, the fundamental properties of plastic containers can be simply defined. However, since they can be classified in such a multitude of ways, there are too many kinds of plastic containers to lump them into one universal description.
Among all of the varieties of plastic containers, they have a few things in common with one another. Because of these characteristics, there has been a high demand for plastic containers spanning a wide range of industries for the past half century. The word “plastic” comes from the Greek and Latin adjectives for an object that can be shaped or molded. This holds true with plastic materials today.
Plastic is capable of being manipulated or shaped into any configuration possible. In addition to its versatility, plastic is a strong and durable material that is customizable and inexpensive. Plastic materials have been used in more applications across a broad range of industries than any other material. Most people in developed countries will not likely remember a time when they have not used a plastic container, such as a plastic tub or a baby bottle. Since plastic products are used so extensively, it is difficult to think of how these applications can be achieved without them, even those that are limited in the applications they are used for, such as catch basins and plastic food containers. Read More…
Many nations across the planet, regardless of economic development, utilize plastic containers in some way. Plastic containers are just as easy to come by in the city streets and rural roads of sub-Saharan Africa as they would in North America. In areas of the world where food is scares and there is no municipal water source, plastic containers are essential for everyday life, and are thus in high demand. It is much rarer to find a food container in a Western country that is made of a material other than plastic, such as peanut butter in a glass jar.
Warehouses use plastic bins or totes to transport and store materials, and factories collect items from the production line using plastic tubs. In the landscaping industry, plastic catch basins are used to direct the flow of rainwater and to protect water sources from pollution. Plastic bins are even used to recycle other plastic containers. Since plastic is versatile, durable, and has a low production cost, plastic is more favorable than other materials.
Most plastics are made of hydrocarbons that are processed and refined. Other containers such as Biodegradable containers, alternatively, are made from processed corn, but the vast majority of plastics are made from petrochemicals. In the first step of the process of creating plastic containers, raw materials derived from crude oil and natural gas are refined and converted into materials such as vinyl chloride, glycol, ethylene, and styrene. All of these ingredients are, in fact, the main components of thermoplastics. If the conditions are right, thermoplastics can be manipulated into a wide range of products.
Another kind of refined plastic known as thermosets is similar, cannot be remolded once set, and are thus not as commonly used in manufacturing. Plastic can be molded using a myriad of processes. Some of these processes include blow molding and injection molding. Both processes involve placing raw plastic material known as stock in a conveyance channel, where the stock is forced into a mold by a long screw located in the chamber. The stock is liquefied by a combination of the heat from heating elements in the channel and the pressure and friction caused by the turning screw.
The molten plastic then fills a mold, which gives the plastic a certain shape. The blow molding process differs slightly. The way that the plastic enters the mold is the same, but the final shaping of the plastic is assisted by compressed air which is directed into the mold. The air expands the melted plastic and hollows it out in specific places. Once the plastic cools and hardens, it is removed from the mold, and the process is complete.
Although plastic containers have many advantage, they are not flawless. The containers are made from crude oil, and because the worldwide demand for plastics is so high, so is the demand for oil, which can have negative environmental implications. Plastic products can be detrimental to our planet if not properly disposed of.
There have been improvements in the recyclability of plastic products; therefore, it is up to us as consumers to dispose plastic products in a way that keeps wastage to a minimum. It has unfortunately been difficult for governments and businesses to encourage good recycling habits. The best solution to the problem of plastic waste disposal and eliminating waste would be to continue research on alternatives to hydrocarbon-based plastics.