Plastic industry is a leading petro-chemical industry. On account of easy moulding, a non-corrosive, moisture resistant quality, the plastic has been a part and parcel of our daily need. It has 17 major and 50 sub-types.
However, two major types of plastic are (i) Thermo-plastic and (ii) Thermo-stat. It is widely used in packing, storage, textiles, building construction, packing of seeds, fertilizers, agricultural implements, auto mobiles, electronics, mining, defence, space, marine engineering, sports, jewellery, toys etc. There are two branches of plastic industry viz. (i) raw material production and (ii) plastic goods production.
Polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), resins, phenolics, urea formaldehyde moulding powder, epoxy resin and polyester resins are the major plastics raw material.
The feedstocks of these materials arc mostly naptha, alcohol, calcium carbide, phenol and benzene. Mumbai is the largest producer of plastic raw materials; other centres include Barauni, Mcttur, Durgapur, Pimpri (Pune) and Rishra (Kolkata). Raw materials are provided by oil refineries.
The plastic conversion industry involves the moulding and fabrication of various goods which is done in the small scale sector. Phenolic laminates, linoleum, upholstery, electrical accessories, rain-coats, lampshades, bags, bottles, trays, buckets, etc. are some of the important items manufactured by this sector. Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Vadodara, Vapi, Kanpur, Amritsar, Coimbatore, etc. are the largest centres manufacturing plastic goods.
The future of the plastic industry has both problems and prospects. The unprecedented growth of plastic in packaging has created the problem of solid waste disposal and it is a cause of concern to the environmentalists.