Plastics Allow High Tech Return to Cycling’s Roots

In the 1860s, bicycle designers were faced with a significant problem. At that time, bicycle wheels did not have tires. Instead, the spokes connected to simple hoops of banded iron. While the iron was durable, it filed to protect riders from bumps on the road, leading some to term the primitive bicycles “bone shakers”.


In an effort to increase rideability, […]

Plastics Packaging often Protects Environment, “The Economist” Reports

One of the most common criticisms levelled against the plastics industry is that plastic packaging doesn’t make any sense from an environmental perspective. Packaging, they argue, is used once and thrown away, resulting in an enormous amount of waste.


A new article published recently in The Economist suggests that this criticism may be without merit, at least in the world […]

The Shale Oil Revolution and Feedstock Production

The recent glut of natural gas and unconventional oil in the United States, combined with increasing vehicular fuel efficiency, has had many effects on a diverse set of industries worldwide. Last month, we discussed the impact of projected declines in oil and gas demand for transportation on the oil and gas industry (they’re investing in plastics feedstock infrastructure rather […]

Keeping Cool with Plastic Films

In developed countries, air conditioning is responsible for 5% of more of total energy consumption. As large countries such as India and China continue to develop, air conditioning is likely to become more popular. In order to develop alternatives to energy-intensive heat pumps such as traditional air conditioner units, engineers have recently begun to focus on passive cooling, which […]

Big Oil Turns from Fuels to Feedstock: A Plastics Perspective

A recently published Wall Street Journal article summarized the current state of the global oil industry succinctly: “Big Oil is betting on plastics”. But is investing in the plastics feedstock industry really a gamble? Isn’t big oil already making plenty of money in its traditional realm of fuel production? And what will the shift to plastics feedstock production mean […]

Lotus Petals May Hold Key to Self-Cleaning Plastics

Plastics are some of the most versatile man-made materials. They overcome many of the disadvantages of plant-based materials such as paper and wood: unlike those natural products, plastics are impermeable to water, practically immune to biodegradation, lightweight, and can be shaped into any form.


Despite the advantageous aspects of plastics over plant-based materials, in some areas nature still has plastics […]

Bicycle Helmets reflect History of Plastics

The plastics industry has been behind many of the most exciting innovations of modernity. Plastics have allowed us to develop advanced medical technologies, more efficient vehicles, and high-tech aerospace products.


However, as is often demonstrated on this blog, many of the changes that plastics have brought are less glamorous, but no less important. Take bicycle helmets:  a recent study by […]

Solving Adhesion Problems Using Plasma Technology

As reported in previous posts, plastics are essential to modern medicine. Medicine places unique demands on materials – they must often be impermeable, easy to clean, long lasting, and manufactured within tight tolerances. Plastics fit the bill, meeting all of these requirements.


However, the very characteristics that make plastics easy to clean, and thus ideal for medical use, make it […]

Plastic Bottles Lighter than Ever; Recycling Challenges Remain

In the plastics industry, producing a lightweight, durable product has always been the goal. Not only does light-weighting reduce manufacturing and feedstock costs, it also reduces the environmental footprint of a product.


Although not as glamorous as the aerospace or automotive sectors, the food grade plastics sector has made great strides in light-weighting. This is evinced by the fact that, […]

Plastics in the Modern Wine Industry

Just twenty years ago, the concept of pouring wine from a plastic bottle would have been distasteful to many consumers, who tend to prefer traditional glass bottles with corks made from, well, cork. However, as consumer concerns about sustainability and convenience have grown, so has the acceptance of plastic as an acceptable material for storing wine. In this post, […]