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“New plastics that change from liquid to solid on impact are finding applications in protective clothing and plastic products are being developed using the principles of nature – an area of research called biomimetics.

So plastic can be valuable and can be used for functions where it needs to last for a considerable length of time. Concepts of green design should now be applied to all new plastics products so that disposable items, such as plastic packaging and throwaway consumer items, biodegrade and do not fill landfill sites or litter the landscape or seas”

In defence of plastic

A pot of plastic biros

Plastic has attracted a lot of bad press recently about its potentially damaging environmental implications. After the BBC’s Chris Jeavans spent a month living without plastic, Susan Mossman explores the many inventions that rely on it.

The more you use plastic in an intelligent and ethical way, the less often you kill animals to have the leather, the less often you kill trees to have wood
Philippe Starck

By the 1960s, designers were using plastics in adventurous new ways to create design icons

The Ekco radio

Plastics play a significant role in medical applications

designed to extend the shelf life of food and may reduce food wastage

The artist Christo has taken the use of plastics as packaging to extreme levels by wrapping buildings

The advent of plastics opened the door to mass production of cheap, attractive goods which democratised the ownership of consumer goods


Nowadays expensive gadgets such as state-of-the-art laptops, mobile phones and iPods have plastic