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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:

· How do the chemical structures of elastomers differ from the structures of thermosetting and thermoplastic polymers, and what are the implications of the production of elastomers for society?


The Efficient Engineer Container: YouTube Year: 2019 URL:


Ekeeda. (2019). Vulcanizing Agents - Polymers - Engineering Chemistry 1 [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

Applications of elastopolymers

Applications of Polymers, Elastomers, Fibers and Composites.

Muhammad Khizar Shafique. (2023). Applications of Polymers, Elastomers, Fibers and Composites.

The full ebook download is available here

Thermosetting and thermoplastic

What Is a Thermosetting Plastic? Definition and Examples

Helmenstine, A. (2020, November 10). What Is a Thermosetting Plastic? Definition and Examples. Science Notes and Projects.


Thermoplastics. (2014). Polymers.

Mike Sugiyama Jones. (2016). A.5 Thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers (SL) [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

Production of elastopolymers

Are Thermoplastics Sustainable?

CDI Products. (2021, September 29). Are Thermoplastics Sustainable?; CDI Products.


Biodegradable thermosets polymers as an alternative solution to pollution generated by plastics