Oxford English Dictionary DefinitionsHemp Facts


  • Over 200 billion pounds (100 million tons) of plastics are produced each year.
  • 45% of all plastics are produced in the United States.
  • 29% of plastics produced in the US are used for packaging (15% building, 14% consumer)
  • The packaging market, in the United States alone is worth $100 billion, a quarter of the global market.
  • A composite is a solid product consisting of two or more distinct phases, including a binding material (matrix) and a fibrous or particulate material.
  • Plastics have successfully competed with other materials on account of their 'low cost'. An example is a zipper. Previously made of metal, a plastic zipper performs as well as its predecessor. The lesser durability is not an issue as it often lasts long after the application using the zipper fails.
  • In the United States over 60 billion pounds of plastic are discarded into the waste stream each year (from 4 billion in 1970). Most of this is in Municipal Solid Waste.
  • One-half of all discarded plastic comes from packaging. Almost one-third comes from packaging that is discarded soon after use.
  • Beach litter is 40-60 percent plastic, much of which often floats in from the sea. Such beach litter is hazardous to birds, fish and animals who die from ingesting it or becoming entangled in it.
  • Wide-scale postconsumer recycling of plastics is relatively new. Modern plastics are becoming harder to recycle.
  • The word plastic comes from the Greek plastikos, meaning able to be shaped.
  • Plastics manufactured today, with few exceptions, are made from synthetic polymers. But polymers also occur in nature. They are produced by plants, animals and microorganisms through biochecmical reactions.
  • Biodegradable plastics are not new. In the biblical Book of Exodus, Moses' mother built his ark from rushes, pitch, and slime, a composite that might now be called a fiber-reinforced bioplastic. Natural resins- like amber, shellac, and gutta percha have been mentioned throughout history, including during the Roman times and the Middle Ages.

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