From its early beginnings during and after World War II, the commercial industry for polymers – long chain synthetic molecules of which 'plastics' are a common misnomer – has grown rapidly.
In 2015, over 320 million tons of polymers, excluding fibers, were manufactured across the globe.
Until the last five years, polymer product designers have typically not considered what will happen after the end of their product's initial lifetime. This is beginning to change, and this issue will require increasing focus in the years ahead.
The plastics industry
'Plastic has become a somewhat misguided way to describe polymers. Typically derived from petroleum or natural gas, these are long chain molecules with hundreds to thousands of links in each chain.