Login / Register

Are Plastics Too Strong?


Thanks! Share it with your friends!


You disliked this video. Thanks for the feedback!

Sorry, only registred users can create playlists.

 Chemistry   |   Environmental   |   Science
 Find Related Videos  added


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!

Thanks also to our Patreon patrons and our YouTube sponsors.


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.

Subscribe to MinuteEarth on YouTube:
Support us on Patreon:
And visit our website:

Say hello on Facebook:
And Twitter:

And download our videos on itunes:

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:


Image Credits:

Disposable plastic cup - Wikimedia user Lionel Allorge

Sandbox and Beach Toys - The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

PET plastic - Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services

LEGO Tank - Flickr user MaxFragg

PVC Pipe - Pam Broviak

IKEA Watering cans - Sonny Abesamis

LEGO Figure - Marco Verch

Wetsuit - Clemens Pfeiffer

White PVC Pipes - Teresa Trimm

STS-120 Shuttle Mission Imagery - NASA

Providing clean water - UK Department for International Development



Albertsson, A. and Hakkarainen, M. (2017). Designed To Degrade. Science. 358 (6365). 872-873. Retrieved from:

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:

Tokiwa, Y., Calabia, B., Ugwu, C., and Aiba, S. (2009). Biodegradability of Plastics. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 10: 3722-3742. Retrieved from:

Rydz, J., ,Sikorska, W., Kyulavska, M., and Christova, D. (2015). International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 16: 564-596. Retrieved from:

Hillmyer, M. (2017). The Promise of Plastics from Plants. Science. 358 (6365). 868-870. Retrieved from:

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

Post your comment


Be the first to comment