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MHS Library | How can chemical principles be applied to create a more sustainable future?

Investigation topic 2: Producing and using ‘greener’ polymers

Both natural and synthetic polymers play an important role in everyday life. The cells in animals and plants are built of, and metabolise, natural polymers. Proteins and carbohydrates in our food are both polymers. Synthetic polymers are used for a myriad of purposes in everyday life but may present challenges in terms of the by-products resulting from their manufacture or breakdown, and their persistence in the environment. The sustainability of polymers can be considered in terms of whether these plastics can be avoided by using different products or activities, reduced through design, or replaced by different materials.

Questions that may be explored in this investigation include:

· Why is the sale of plastic water bottles and single-use plastics banned in many countries?

TED-Ed. (2020). A brief history of plastic [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

TED-Ed. (2015). What really happens to the plastic you throw away - Emma Bryce [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.


Plastic Bottles Sold Per Hour, Day, Month and Last Ten Years

Barrett, A. (2019, September 8). Plastic Bottles Sold Per Hour, Day, Month and Last Ten Years. Bioplastics News.

Global Reusable Water Bottles Market By Material Type (Steel, Aluminum, Glass, Silicone, Plastic, Others), By Type(Insulated, Non-Insulated), By Distribution Channel (Online, and Offline), By Region and Companies - Industry Segment Outlook, Market Assessment, Competition Scenario, Trends, and Forecast 2023-2032

Reusable Water Bottles Market Trends and Forecast 2032. (2023, May 9).

In Australia


National Plastics Plan

Plastics - DCCEEW. (2022).

National  Plastics Plan  2021

Ley, S., & Evans, T. (2021). National Plastics Plan 2021.

Case studies - countries that have banned single use plastics

Costa Rica


Team, M. (2019, June 26). List of contries ban and reduce single-use plastic in future. POLYFILL.


‌Queensland, Australia



World Bank Group. (2022, July 29). Towards a national single use plastics roadmap in Vietnam: strategies and options for reducing priority single-use plastics. World Bank; World Bank Group.