Everything You Need To Know About Polypropylene
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic made from the combination of propylene monomers. It is used in a variety of applications to include packaging for consumer products, plastic parts for various industries including the automotive industry, kitchen ware and house ware products, and also textiles. The major end users of polypropylene are the packaging industry, which consumes about 30% of the total, followed by the electrical and equipment manufacturing, which uses about 13% each. Household appliances and automotive industries both consume 10% each and construction materials follows with 5% of the market. Other applications together make up the rest of the global polypropylene consumption.
Polypropylene is classified as a “thermoplastic” material which has to do with the way the plastic responds to heat. Thermoplastic materials become liquid at their melting point (roughly 130 degrees Celsius in the case of polypropylene). A major useful attribute about thermoplastics is that they can be heated to their melting point, cooled, and reheated again without significant degradation. Instead of burning, thermoplastics like polypropylene liquefy, which allows them to be easily injection molded and then subsequently recycled.
While PP is easily among the most popular plastic packaging materials in the world, only around 1% is recycled, which means most PP is headed for the landfill. These decompose slowly over 20-30 years. This raises severe environmental issues, quite apart from toxic additives in PP such as lead and cadmium. Incineration may release dioxins and vinyl chloride, both of which are poisonous.