Chemical Plastic

July 21, 2010

plastic bag has a long history

Filed under: Plastic Imp. & Exp. — Administrator @ 5:49 am

Plastic Bags are everywhere. Plastic bags are synonymous with shopping.  Stores give out over a billion plastic bags per day to customers all over the world.  It is estimated that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed a year! These bags have many benefits; however, they also do a huge amount of environmental damage.

The First Man-Made Plastic – Parkesine

The first man-made plastic was created by Alexander Parkes who publicly demonstrated it at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. The material called Parkesine was an organic material derived from cellulose that once heated could be molded, and retained its shape when cooled.

Celluloid

Celluloid is derived from cellulose and alcoholized camphor. John Wesley Hyatt invented celluloid as a substitute for the ivory in billiard balls in 1868. He first tried using collodion a natural substance, after spilling a bottle of it and discovering that the material dried into a tough and flexible film. However, the material was not strong enough to be used as a billiard ball, until the addition of camphor, a derivative of the laurel tree. The new celluloid could be molded with heat and pressure into a durable shape.

Besides billiard balls, celluloid became famous as the first flexible photographic film used for still photography and motion pictures. John Wesley Hyatt created celluloid in a strip format for movie film. By 1900, movie film was an exploding market for celluloid.

After cellulose nitrate, formaldehyde was the next product to advance the technology of plastic. Around 1897, efforts to manufacture white chalkboards led to casein plastics (milk protein mixed with formaldehyde).

The following are the contemporary history of plastic bags:

1957 The first baggies and sandwich bags on a roll are introduced.

1958 Poly dry cleaning bags compete with traditional brown paper.
1966 Plastic bag use in bread packaging takes over 25 to 30 percent of the market.

1966 Plastic produce bags on a roll are introduced in grocery stores.

1969 The New York City Sanitation Department’s “New York City Experiment” demonstrates that plastic refuse bag curbside pickup is cleaner, safer and quieter than metal trash can pick-up, beginning a shift to plastic can liners among consumers.

1974/75 Retailing giants such as Sears, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, Jordan Marsh, Allied, Federated and Hills make the switch to plastic merchandise bags.

1973 The first commercial system for manufacturing plastic grocery bags becomes operational

1977 The plastic grocery bag is introduced to the supermarket industry as an alternative to paper sacks.

1982 Kroger and Safeway start to replace traditional craft sacks with polyethylene “t-shirt” bags.
1990 The first blue bag recycling program begins with curbside collection.

1990 Consumer plastic bag recycling begins through a supermarket collection-site network.

1992 Nearly half of U.S. supermarkets have recycling available for plastic bags.

1996 Four of five grocery bags used are plastic.

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