While you might not think about plastic every day, we certainly do. As thermoformers, we work with a wide variety of plastics and have compiled many interesting facts about these versatile materials, including the following 10 facts.
1. Thermoset Plastics & Thermoplastics Are Not The Same
The names might sound similar, but there is a big difference between thermoset plastics and thermoplastics or thermoformed plastics. Thermoset plastics are molded by heat just as thermoform plastics will be, but once a thermoset plastic has been formed, it can never be recycled and melted down and used again. We only use thermoform plastics at Indepak, and not thermoset plastics.
2. Thermoplastics Are Highly Recyclable
Unlike those thermoplastics we mentioned in the first fact, thermoplastics or thermoformed plastics can be recycled. At Indepak, almost all of the materials we use are recyclable and we focus on recycling, reusing and reducing every day at our company.
3. Ancient People Had Plastics
Natural plastics have been around for centuries, and ancient people used materials such as natural rubber and cellulose as well as animal proteins and animal horns to create a wide assortment of items.
4. Every Plastic Has A Number
Plastics are identified with a special resin identification code. This code is used by recycling centers, and the number signifies what type of plastic material was used to create an item. For instance, a “1” is used to identify polyethylene terephthalate or PET. This type of plastic is perhaps the most widely accepted by curbside recycling programs. You can find these numbers on items such as plastic bottles with the number itself surrounded by three arrows, the traditional symbol of recycling.
5. There Is A Secret Plastics Society
Alright, it’s not actually secret, but there is a large organization that helps to represent the plastics industry. This group, the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), was founded in 1937 long before plastics were truly in mainstream use.
6. The Plastics Industry Is Huge & Continues To Grow
According to the SPI, the plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S. Nearly one million Americans are employed in the plastics industry, including our team of thermoformers here at Indepak.
7. Six-Pack Beverage Rings Are Photo-Degradable
We’ve all seen those pictures showcasing animals entrapped in a plastic six-pack ring on a beach somewhere. While this certainly looks disturbing, it is important to note that it’s not the whole story. Because marine wildlife was increasingly affected by six-pack rings, plastics manufacturers began making 100% photo-degradable rings. This means the plastic begins to disintegrate in just a few days, allowing animals to free themselves. Since 1989, all six-pack rings produced in the U.S. are photo-degradable. While they still obviously belong in a proper waste container, they aren’t the environmental terror that many would have you believe.
8. Plastics Actually Save Energy
Plastics are actually a bit more eco-friendly than you might have imagined. In fact, only about 4 percent of our nation’s energy consumption is needed to produce plastics. Not only does it require less energy to produce goods out of plastic, because of the light weight, you can ship more products in fewer trucks, which saves fuel. As the SPI explains, 2.8 million plastic grocery bags can be transported in just one truck. On the other hand, if you loaded up that same truck with paper bags, only 500,000 would fit.
9. There Are Many Sustainable Options
Most thermoplastics can be recycled and then transformed into something new. There are also starch-based bio-materials that can be used to create plastic packaging. Some of these are even biodegradable or compostable.
10. Plastics Have Saved Lives
In 1965, a DuPont chemist named Stephanie Kwolek invented a new type of plastic material – poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide. While that’s a mouthful, you probably have heard of its brand name – Kevlar. This material has been used to create body armor for soldiers and police officers for decades.
Of course, sharing trivia about thermoplastics isn’t our main focus. We create all types of thermoplastic packing and products. This includes thermoform trays, blister packs, clamshells and much more. If you are searching for thermoformers that can create the highest quality thermoplastic products at an affordable price, the team at Indepak can help. Give us a call today and we can start designing your custom thermoforming project.