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Are Plastics Too Strong?

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 Chemistry   |   Environmental   |   Science
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Description

The same chemistry that makes plastic tough, light and flexible also makes it nearly impossible to get rid of, because it’s hard to break those resilient chemical bonds.

Thanks to the University of Minnesota for sponsoring this video! http://twin-cities.umn.edu/

Thanks also to our Patreon patrons https://www.patreon.com/MinuteEarth and our YouTube sponsors.

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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Polymer: A substance whose molecular structure consists of large numbers of similar units covalently bonded together
Covalent bond: A strong type of bond in which adjacent atoms share electrons.
Backbone chain: A long series of covalently bonded atoms that create the continuous chain of the molecule.
Bioplastic: A type of plastic, usually biodegradable, made from biological substances.
Scission: The breakage of a backbone chain at the bond level.
Microbial biodegradation: The use of microbes to break molecules into smaller and less harmful forms.
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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Script Editor: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Illustrator: Arcadi Garcia
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Emily Elert (@eelert)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder: http://www.soundcloud.com/drschroeder

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Image Credits:

Disposable plastic cup - Wikimedia user Lionel Allorge
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tasse_Plastique_Air_France_1.jpg

Sandbox and Beach Toys - The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Childrens_Museum_of_Indianapolis_-_Sandbox_and_Beach_Toys.jpg

PET plastic - Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services
https://flic.kr/p/cnfKKw

LEGO Tank - Flickr user MaxFragg
https://flic.kr/p/gDR7iV

PVC Pipe - Pam Broviak
https://flic.kr/p/4sy8kb

IKEA Watering cans - Sonny Abesamis
https://flic.kr/p/pcXrpj

LEGO Figure - Marco Verch
https://flic.kr/p/DseDts

Wetsuit - Clemens Pfeiffer
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shorty-wetsuit-O%27Neill.jpg

White PVC Pipes - Teresa Trimm
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ttrimm/7355733948

STS-120 Shuttle Mission Imagery - NASA
https://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-120/html/sts120-s-028.html

Providing clean water - UK Department for International Development
https://flic.kr/p/a4UESo

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References:

Albertsson, A. and Hakkarainen, M. (2017). Designed To Degrade. Science. 358 (6365). 872-873. Retrieved from: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6365/872

De Hoe, G., Zumstein, M., Tiegs, B., Brutman, J., McNeill, K., Sander, M., Coates, G., and Hillmyer, M. (2018). Sustainable Polyester Elastomers from Lactones: Synthesis,Properties, and Enzymatic Hydrolyzability. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 140: 963-973. Retrieved from: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jacs.7b10173

Tokiwa, Y., Calabia, B., Ugwu, C., and Aiba, S. (2009). Biodegradability of Plastics. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 10: 3722-3742. Retrieved from: http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/9/3722

Rydz, J., ,Sikorska, W., Kyulavska, M., and Christova, D. (2015). International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 16: 564-596. Retrieved from: http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/16/1/564

Hillmyer, M. (2017). The Promise of Plastics from Plants. Science. 358 (6365). 868-870. Retrieved from: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6365/868

Hillmyer, M. (2017). Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota. Personal Communication.

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