Demand for plastic resins in Europe during 2017 as a percentage of total plastic demand.[1]
A comparison of standard plastics, engineering plastics, and high-performance plastics

Commodity plastics or commodity polymers are plastics produced in high volumes for applications where exceptional material properties are not needed[according to whom?] (such as packaging, food containers, and household products). In contrast to engineering plastics, commodity plastics tend to be inexpensive to produce and exhibit relatively weak mechanical properties. Some examples of commodity plastics are polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and poly(methyl methacrylate) .[2] Globally, the most widely used thermoplastics include both polypropylene and polyethylene.[3] Products made from commodity plastics include disposable plates, disposable cups, photographic and magnetic tape, clothing, reusable bags, medical trays, and seeding trays.[4]


Products made from commodity plastics include disposable plates, disposable cups, photographic and magnetic tape, clothing, reusable bags, medical trays, and seeding trays.[4] Several investigations suggest that the kinetics of thermal degradation of commodity plastics is important to realize the complications it may bring because of the temperature that it goes through which includes production process or manufacturing process. Plastic includes high molecular weight and burning them is too risky as it is interacted with mass and energy transport which brings complications if not properly investigated.[5] Despite the complications of plastics, plastic makers recycle for new growth as it introduces with how countries like the United States have limited the use of products made by plastics and it has also been trending in Europe and Japan. The tactics of marketing strategies to recycle plastics can be a huge growth to plastic makers as people tend to purchase the recycled materials more. Companies like Procter & Gamble and Clorox makes the use of recycled products to manufacture household products.


The industry of commodity plastics is rapidly increasing. The consumption of plastic is in such high volumes due to the convenience and its lightweight abilities. One contribution to the market of commodity plastics is the rise of lightweight electric vehicles.[6] Many companies are decreasing the use of heavy metals and incorporating more plastics into vehicles. Advanced plastic materials ensure the safety and performance of cars.

The majority of commodity plastics are made into packaging for food, drinks and products that must be enclosed. Due to the low cost and durability, it outweighs other packaging materials like metals, cardboard, Styrofoam, etc.[6] The low cost of these packaging materials promotes large quantities of production and overconsumption of plastic. COVID-19 boosted the production of plastic packaging as protection from the virus was important. This began single-use plastic to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[6]

Electronics are a huge contribution to commodity plastics. In cellphones, computers, tablets, headphones, cameras etc. plastic is one material used often. Since China is the biggest electronic producer, they produce the most amount of commodity plastics and then sell it to other countries.[6]

Types of Commodity Plastics

There are several types of commodity plastics which are chemicals burned and turned into the solid plastic material. The properties of these commodity plastics make them adjustable and flexible therefore increasing mass production.[7]

Popular types of commodity plastics include:

  1. Polyethylene: monomer ethylene units connect forming this type. It is the most popular type of plastic used amongst producers in bottles, bubble wrap, packaging food products and bags for mattresses.[7]
  2. Polypropylene: monomer ethylene produced by blow molding, injection molding and extrusion. It is a strong and lightweight plastic that can be seen in packaging, pipes, healthcare, and electric implementations.[7]
  3. Polystyrene: aromatic hydrocarbon styrene which is cost-effective while also commonly used and produced. Appears transparent normally, but with the addition of color is used in electronics, pots, toys, rubbers, and other appliances.[7]
  4. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): a low-cost monomer vinyl chloride and polymer plastic common amongst many applications. It is available in two formations: rigid or unplasticized and flexible. It is resistant to degradation and chemicals. It can be seen in pipes, doors, windows, cable wires and plumbing.[7]
  5. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET): a polyester that is of the polymerization of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. It is stiff with good strength and can be recycled by chemical upcycling. This type of plastic can be seen in bottles, bags, packaging, conveyor belts and the textile industry.[7]

Environmental Concerns

Concerns are rising about the amount of environmental waste. The consumption of plastic is becoming so large that it is affecting many parts of Earth. The majority of people who use plastic do not recycle. So, it typically ends up in oceans, on roads, sidewalks, landfills, and farmland. Specifically, oceans are at risk because the plastic puts animals in danger if they ingest or get tangled in it.[8] Furthermore, the chemicals from plastics are added into the water and contaminate it.[8] The gases and chemicals in plastic and production from it cause greenhouse gases to increase from the production and use of them. For example, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased, partially due to plastic use.[9]

Disposing of Commodity Plastics

The degradation rate of commodity plastics is very low preventing them from breaking down into the Earth.[10] When they are not properly disposed of plastics can sit for many decades without decomposition.[11] Most of it gets dumped in landfills or filtered into oceans. Recycling is one way people dispose of plastic to reuse it. However, the rate that materials are recycled after they are disposed of is 10% which poses environmental threats.[9]

Two researched recycling methods:

  1. Closed-loop recycling- the recycled material is reused and made new without losing its properties.[9]
  2. Chemical upcycling- the recycled materials are converted into value-added chemicals.[9] It uses the chemicals from plastic to turn it into fuel.[8]

These methods are currently being researched and altered to reduce the concerns for future issues amongst humans, animals, oceans, and land.

Further reading


  1. ^ "Plastics - the Facts 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Plastics the Facts 2014/2015 at". Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  3. ^ Andrady, Anthony L.; Neal, Mike A. (2009-07-27). "Applications and societal benefits of plastics". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 364 (1526): 1977–1984. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0304. ISSN 0962-8436. PMC 2873019. PMID 19528050.
  4. ^ a b Kaiser, Wolfgang (2011). Kunststoffchemie für Ingenieure: Von der Synthese bis zur Anwendung. Carl Hanser. p. 439. ISBN 978-3-446-43047-1.
  5. ^ Bockhorn, H.; Hornung, A.; Hornung, U.; Teepe, S.; Weichmann, J. (August 1996). "Investigation of the Kinetics of Thermal Degradation of Commodity Plastics". Combustion Science and Technology. 116–117 (1–6): 129–151. doi:10.1080/00102209608935546. ISSN 0010-2202.
  6. ^ a b c d "Commodity Plastics Market Trends 2021-2030: Industry Forecast". Allied Market Research. Retrieved 2023-11-28.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "List of Commodity Plastics - Types, Properties and Applications". Retrieved 2023-11-28.
  8. ^ a b c Leavitt, Christy (2023-11-01). "How Single Use Plastics Hurt Our Oceans and Warm Our Planet". Peril & Promise. Retrieved 2023-11-28.
  9. ^ a b c d Zhang, Fan; Wang, Fang; Wei, Xiangyue; Yang, Yang; Xu, Shimei; Deng, Dehui; Wang, Yu-Zhong (2022-06-01). "From trash to treasure: Chemical recycling and upcycling of commodity plastic waste to fuels, high-valued chemicals and advanced materials". Journal of Energy Chemistry. 69: 369–388. doi:10.1016/j.jechem.2021.12.052. ISSN 2095-4956.
  10. ^ "Commodity Plastics Market Trends 2021-2030: Industry Forecast". Allied Market Research. Retrieved 2023-11-28.
  11. ^ Haider, Tobias P.; Völker, Carolin; Kramm, Johanna; Landfester, Katharina; Wurm, Frederik R. (2019-01-02). "Plastics of the Future? The Impact of Biodegradable Polymers on the Environment and on Society". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 58 (1): 50–62. doi:10.1002/anie.201805766. ISSN 1433-7851.