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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:

· What impact does the vulcanisation of rubber have on the environment and the communities where rubber is sourced and produced?


Akron Global Polymer Academy at UA. (2014). A Brief History of Rubber [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.


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

Production of rubber

Channel, S. (2013). Natural Rubber | How It’s Made [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

OneMonroe. (2021). What Is Vulcanized Rubber - Monroe Engineering [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

Rubber sourcing


Custom Rubber Corp. (2019). Custom Rubber Corp.

Concept Paper - Digitization of NR Supply Chain for Singapore. (2020).

Synthetic rubber


Making the production of rubber better for the planet. (2016). World Wildlife Fund.


The Development of Synthetic Rubber and its Significance in World War II World War II 

Provost, N. (2022b). The Development of Synthetic Rubber and its Significance in World War II. History in the Making, 15.


Rubber and the environment

Transforming the global rubber market

Transforming the global rubber market | Projects | WWF. (2016). World Wildlife Fund.


Environmental Problems Related to Natural Rubber Production in Thailand

Engineered microbe excels at ‘breathing rubber,’ could curb reliance on petroleum (2021, March 18). Engineered microbe excels at “breathing rubber,” could curb reliance on petroleum.