What is plastic?
The word plastic comes from the Greek word ‘plastikos’, which means ‘bendy’.

Plastic containers
Polystyrene can be made into food boxes and model kits

Although things like clay and wax are bendy too, we use the word plastic to mean a group of man–made materials. They are made from chemicals that we get from oil.

Why is plastic useful?
Plastic is very useful because it can be coloured, melted, shaped, squashed, rolled into sheets or made into fibres.

There are lots of different types of plastic.

Polystyrene is hard and firm. It can be cut, glued and painted, but it breaks easily.

Expanded’ polystyrene is light and soft. It is used to make heat-proof disposable cups, to line the walls of cool boxes and to make the ‘beans’ in a ‘bean bag’ chair.

Polythene is light, tough and bendy. It can be made into buckets, bowls, bags and sacks.

PTFE is short for ‘polytetrafluoroethene’. It is used to make non-stick pans and is better known as ‘Teflon’.

PVC is short for ‘polyvinylchloride’. It is waterproof, so it is good for making bags, coats, wellington boots and even bouncy castles!

Changing image of plastic uses
Uses of polythese, PTFE and PVC.