20 Examples of Non-biodegradable Plastics

Non-Biodegradable Plastics

Non-biodegradable plastics do not break down or decompose naturally in the environment. They are typically made from synthetic materials, mainly derived from petroleum products, and are designed for durability and longevity. Unlike biodegradable materials, which are decomposed by bacteria and other living organisms over time, non-biodegradable plastics can remain in the environment for hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of years. This is because the microorganisms that help in the decomposition process cannot easily break down the chemical structure of these plastics. The widespread use of non-biodegradable plastics in a variety of products, from packaging and containers to toys and medical devices, is primarily due to their strength, versatility, and low cost. However, their persistence in the environment poses significant ecological challenges. Here are some examples of non-biodegradable plastics:


1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET/PETE) 

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET/PET) is a non-biodegradable plastic made by combining ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. PET is widely used for making water and soda bottles, food packaging, and even some fabrics. It is lightweight and doesn’t shatter easily. However, being non-biodegradable, PET doesn’t break down naturally in the environment and can stay in landfills or oceans for a very long time, causing pollution and harming animals. That is why it is very important to recycle PET products whenever possible.

2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)  

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)  

High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, is created by applying high temperatures and pressures to petroleum, which transforms it into a tough plastic. HDPE is strong, resistant to chemicals, and doesn’t break easily. It is used in the making of various items like milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, plastic bags, toys, and some outdoor furniture.

3. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) 

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) 

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is made by heating petroleum under controlled conditions, which turns it into a soft, flexible plastic. LDPE is used in making things that need to be flexible, like plastic bags, cling films, and squeezable bottles. It is also used in packaging materials and some toys.

4. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) 

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a widely used plastic that is made by chemically processing a combination of chlorine and ethylene, derived from petroleum. It results in a tough and versatile plastic well-known for its durability. It is used in a variety of products like plumbing pipes, window frames, vinyl flooring, toys, credit cards, vinyl records, and medical devices.

5. Polypropylene (PP) 

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene (PP) is made from a chemical called propylene, which comes from petroleum. To make PP, propylene is processed under high temperatures and pressures until it turns into this light durable plastic. PP doesn’t react much with liquids, which is why it is often used for containers like yogurt pots, ketchup bottles, and medicine bottles. It is also found in car parts, plastic diapers, and some toys.

6. Polystyrene (PS) 

Polystyrene (PS) 

Polystyrene (PS) is made from styrene, which is processed from petroleum and turned into a light, foam-like material or a hard plastic. PS is very common in everyday items; it is used to make items like disposable coffee cups, take-out food containers, packing peanuts, and even some types of insulation. It is a popular plastic because it is lightweight, cheap, and good at keeping things warm or cold.

7. Polycarbonate (PC) 

Polycarbonate (PC) 

Polycarbonate (PC) is a strong and tough type of non-biodegradable plastic made from a combination of chemicals, mainly bisphenol A (BPA) and phosgene. To create PC, these chemicals are reacted together in a complex chemical process, which results in a clear, hard plastic that is durable and resistant to heat and physical impacts. Polycarbonate is widely used in various products like eyeglass lenses, bulletproof glass, and clear plastic bottles. It is also used in electronics, like CD and DVD cases, and some medical devices.

8. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) 

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) 

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is made by mixing acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene in a special process that creates a tough and rigid plastic. ABS is known for being strong, durable, and slightly flexible, which makes it great for making various items such LEGO bricks, computer keyboards, and car parts like dashboards and hubcaps. It is also used in some musical instruments and protective gear like helmets.

9. Polyurethane (PU) 

Polyurethane (PU) 

Polyurethane (PU) is made by combining two key chemicals: polyol and diisocyanate. Polyurethane is used in a wide range of products because it can be both soft and hard. It is commonly found in foam cushions for furniture, mattresses, car seats, and insulation materials for buildings. PU is also used in some shoe soles, sporting goods, and even in certain types of paints and coatings.

10. Polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) 

Polyethylene Naphthalate (PEN)

Polyethylene Naphthalate (PEN) is a strong and heat-resistant non-biodegradable plastic, which is created by chemically combining ethylene glycol and naphthalene-2,6-dicarboxylate. PEN is often used in higher-strength plastic bottles and containers, especially those that need to withstand higher temperatures or harsher conditions than typical plastic can handle. It is also found in some specialty packaging and electronic applications, like insulating films and solar panels.

11. Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) 

Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT)

Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) is a durable and heat-resistant plastic, which is made by combining butanediol and terephthalic acid. BT is particularly valued for its toughness and stability under heat, making it a popular choice for electrical components like connectors and insulators, as well as for various car parts. It is also used in making some computer keyboards and other mechanical components that require precision and strength.

12. Polyetherimide (PEI) 

Polyetherimide (PEI) 

Polyetherimide (PEI) is a high-performance non-biodegradable plastic made from a chemical reaction involving chemical compounds like bisphenol-A and dianhydride. PEI is notable for its ability to withstand high temperatures and its overall durability, making it ideal for advanced applications like aerospace parts, electrical and electronic components, and medical devices. Its strength and stability are also appreciated in the automotive industry for under-the-hood components.

13. Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK) 

Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK)

Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK) is made by combining ether and ketone. PEEK is a strong, durable, and heat-resistant plastic which is why it is especially valued in fields that require materials to withstand extreme conditions. It is used in aerospace for parts in airplanes, in the medical field for surgical implants, and the automotive industry for components that must endure high temperatures. PEEK’s strength and resistance to chemicals also make it useful in industrial machinery.

14. Polyimide (PI) 

Polyimide (PI) 

Polyimide (PI) is a type of plastic known for its exceptional heat resistance and durability. It is made by a chemical reaction between a dianhydride and a diamine. PI can withstand very high temperatures and harsh environments, which makes it ideal for use in a variety of demanding applications. It is commonly used in the electronics industry for flexible circuits and insulating films, in aerospace for parts that need to endure extreme conditions, and even in the automotive industry for heat-resistant components. Polyimide is also used in the production of high-temperature-resistant tapes and varnishes.

15. Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) 

Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) 

Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) is a variation of the more commonly known plastic called PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate). PETG is made by adding glycol to the basic PET formula. This process results in a plastic that is clearer, more durable, and easier to mold than standard PET. PETG is widely used in making items like plastic bottles and containers because it doesn’t shatter easily. It is also popular in 3D printing due to its ease of use and strength. Additionally, PETG is used in medical packaging because it stands up well to sterilization processes.

16. Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC) 

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC) 

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC) is created from the polymerization of vinylidene chloride. This process involves chemical reactions that turn vinylidene chloride into a tough, resistant plastic. PVDC is especially well-known for its ability to block out air and moisture, making it a popular choice for food packaging like wrap films to keep food fresh. It is also used in pharmaceutical packaging due to its protective properties. PVDC’s resistance to water and chemicals makes it useful for various industrial applications as well.

17. Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) 

Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) 

Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) is a type of plastic made by combining ethylene and vinyl acetate through a process called copolymerization, creating a flexible and soft material. EVA is known for its rubber-like properties, which is why it is often used in products that require flexibility and cushioning. For example, it is commonly found in the soles of sports shoes, where it provides lightweight padding. EVA is also used in the manufacturing of foam toys, padding in equipment, and some packaging materials.

18. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) 

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) 

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is made from the polymerization of a compound called tetrafluoroethylene. In its raw form, PTFE is white, waxy, non-reactive, and non-stick material. It is most famously used in non-stick cookware like frying pans. It is also used in a variety of other applications where a slick, heat-resistant surface is needed, such as in pipes and hoses, electrical insulation, and even in some types of surgical and dental devices.

19. Polyamide (Nylon) 

Polyamide (Nylon) 

Polyamide, commonly known as Nylon, is a type of synthetic plastic made from chemically combining organic compounds called diamines and dicarboxylic acids. Nylon is widely known for its use in textiles; it is used to make things like clothing, ropes, and fishing nets because of its strength and elasticity. It is also used in manufacturing various products, including toothbrush bristles, machine parts, and automotive components.

20. Polyoxymethylene (POM) 

Polyoxymethylene (POM) 

Polyoxymethylene (POM) is created by the polymerization of formaldehyde molecules to form long-chained rigid plastic. POM is well-regarded for its high strength, stiffness, and resistance to wear and friction. Because of these properties, it is often used in precision parts that require high durability and low friction, like gears, bearings, and fasteners in machines and vehicles. POM is also used in some consumer products like zippers and pens.

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