In 1862, Alexander
Parkes exhibited the world’s first plastic. This break-through
commenced what became a multi-billion dollar industry in the
years to come, used in virtually every branch of products known
to man. From this day on, every decade has marked a different
break through in plastics.
In 1907, the first synthetic patent for plastics was filed and
used for hair dryers, radio cabinets, ashtrays and cameras.
This was before the patent for PVC was reported in 1914, which
marked the beginning of injection molding in 1921. During this
time, Nylon was also discovered and in the late 30’s and
early 40’s plastics boomed with WWII.
Soldiers carried plastic bags to place personal belongings,
food, guns, ammo, etc. Parachutes and upholstery were also made
from nylon. Household items started to be made from plastics
because of their simple to clean surfaces and labor reducing
devices. In the 1950’s, about 50% of dinnerware was plastic
and cars introduced plastic parts in the production line.
of its high melting point, Polyethylene containers,
dustbins and baby baths were on the rise. Inflatable
chairs and ornaments, Polypropylene combs and bottle
stoppers became incredibly popular in the 60’s
along with the introduction of PVC bottles. The lightness
and versatility of plastics also played an important
role in the production of spacecrafts. Between the years
of 1974-1988, plastic use in vehicles soared 11%. In
the 80’s, the first all plastic airplane test
flight occurred and the lightweight, insulation, strength
and flexibility of plastic helped global communications
with telephones, fiber-optic cables and computers.
The brief history of these events exemplifies
the importance plastic had on the evolution of history,
science, economics and politics. With this in mind,
the development of super and hypermarkets has tremendously
changed the habits of the common consumer. Relative
to years ago, purchasing of fresh foods and products
has immensely diminished, as has the supply. Plastics
now play a key role in the transportation and freshness
of products not only in the food industry but also in
the medical and electronic industries.