One of the major advantages of plastics; one of the reasons they have become the industrial standard material for producing pretty much everything; is that they are extremely durable and last a very long time. Their durability comes from the molecular bonds that hold them together, and due to the high energy they are not easily broken. Despite this, plastics are very versatile; they can be heated, and some varieties can be reheated, and then moulded into a variety of shapes; from extremely intricate products, to those that are absolutely massive.
Although the durability and longevity of plastics are perhaps two of their greatest strengths, they are not without their share of problems. Plastic has been in production for well over a hundred and fifty years; it was invented by British engineer Alexander Parkes in the mid nineteenth century. Parkes used the name Parkesine, and although it was fairly rudimentary in comparison to the plastics of today; it was prone to cracking, it was expensive, and it was extremely flammable; it was to go into mass production towards the end of the 1850s. The first truly mass produced plastics had surfaced by the end of that same decade, and the usage of the material skyrocketed very quickly indeed.
It was not for another hundred years that plastic began to be recycled. Of course, recycling as a process has been around for thousands of years, dating back to Plato around four hundred years before the birth of Christ; but recycling plastic is a little more tricky, due to the difficulty of breaking the bonds that hold it together. Nevertheless, most plastics nowadays are recyclable, and recycling is gaining more mainstream appeal.
But why is it considered so important to recycle plastic? Well perhaps the most significant reason is the cost involved in creating new plastic products. Compared to virgin production, recycled plastic products use seventy percent less energy when using production methods such as vacuum forming and injection moulding. This is obviously a very significant saving, and such a saving on a large scale allows for a much greater production of plastic products for a similar price, meaning that the price of plastics noticeably decreases.
This is where it affects you. There is a tendency in this country to bypass recycling; sometimes people can't be bothered with sorting them apart; some people think that their contribution cannot make a difference. More often than not people associate recycling only with saving the environment; whilst recycling has profound environmental implications, that's not all you can achieve. By recycling all your plastic products, you can lower the price of everything from bottles to laptop computers and mp3 players. Recycling can help to fight the recession.