The problem with plastic




Plastic is a very useful material but it also causes problems. Plastic does not rot away. So if plastic bottles or bags are dropped as litter they stay there for a very long time. Plastic litter spoils our environment.






A lot of plastic is thrown away.

Every year we throw away millions of tonnes of plastic. Most of it ends up in landfill sites and is buried under the ground. Most plastics do not rot or break down so they will be there for a very long time.



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Plastics for health


Plastic can be used to keep us healthy. Hospitals use plastic because it is clean and safe. Plastic tubes are used in hospital to give us medicine. Blood is stored in plastic bags. We are given injections with plastic syringes.






These teeth are made from plastic.

As people grow older, they may lose their teeth. If this happens, they can have new ones made from plastic. Plastic teeth are hard perfect for chewing. They are shaped to look exactly like our own teeth. Even better, they will never need fillings!




This plastic hand looks real.

Plastic is used to make artificial parts of the body such as legs, arms, hands and ears. They are made to look real and are used to replace those lost in accidents or through illness. Artificial legs help people to walk.










Plastic can help us move again.

When we get older, our joints such as the hip or knee sometimes wear away and become very painful. An artificial joint made from plastic and metal can be used to replace the damaged joint so that people can move again without pain.




Plastic clothes



Some of our clothes are made from plastic. Fabrics made from plastic are easy to look after. They do not get dirty very easily or need much ironing. Plastic fabrics last a long time and do not lose their shape and become baggy.








These threads are made from plastic.

Plastic fabrics are made by forcing hot, runny plastic through very fine holes in a machine. The plastic comes out in thin fibres which are used to weave into fabric. Fibres made from plastic are called synthetic fibres. Sometimes synthetic fibres are mixed with natural ones such as cotton.





These clothes are made from plastic.

A special type of plastic material is designed to be fireproof. This material is worn by firefighters and racing car drivers. Before it is used, the material is rested with a white-hot gas flame to make sure that it will protect whoever wears it.






Tents made from plastic cloth keep out the rain.

Fabric can be made waterproof by adding plastic. Some fabrics are just coated with plastic on one side. Other fabrics are put in a bath of plastic paste so that the paste soaks into the fabric.

Which things wrapped in plastic?


All wrapped up                                                 

Many of the things we buy are wrapped in plastic. The wrapping helps to keep things fresh. It can also tell us about the food we are buying. The words printed on a plastic yoghurt pot tell us what flavour yoghurt is inside.







If this bottle of water is dropped it will not break.

Plastic is a good material for packaging because it doesn’t break easily like glass. Plastic is very light compared with glass or metal. This means it is easier to transport plastic bottles to shops. Vans and Lorries need to use less fuel to transport plastic bottles.





Plastic bottles keep chemicals safe.

Plastic is waterproof and can be resistant to chemicals. Plastic can be used to package harmful chemicals. Even if the plastic bottle is dropped the chemical won’t spill because plastic is shatterproof.










The plastic wrapper keeps the food fresh. 

Plastic packaging is safe and hygienic. It helps to keep food fresh for longer so that less food is wasted. It protects the food from being damaged. The plastic film we use to cover foods is strong, waterproof, airtight and germproof.

Bubbly Plastic


Plastic can be made into foam. Foam is made by blowing bubbles of gas into melted plastic. Some foams have very tiny bubbles inside and others have bubbles that are big enough to see. Plastic foams are used in many different ways.




Plastic foam helps to keep things warm.

Plastic foam is a good heat insulator. This means it does not let heat pass through it. We use plastic to insulate our homes and stop heat being lost through the walls and roof. Buildings can be insulated by putting sheets of foam behind walls, floors or ceilings. We also use plastic foam to keep food and drinks warm.






Foam plastic is used to make furniture.

The soft furniture that we use in our homes is filled with spongy plastic foam. The air bubbles in the foam make it soft to sit on. Some foam gives off dangerous fumes if it catches fire. New furniture is made with foam that doesn’t easily burn.





Plastic foam helps to keep things safe from knocks.

Polystyrene plastic is used to package fragile objects that may easily get broken. The small pieces of polystyrene fit around an object and protect it against knocks. Polystyrene is strong but lightweight. It is used to make cycle helmets to protect our heads.