Properties of plastics

Most of the plastics we use have been made by scientists from chemicals that were obtained from crude oil.

Plastics are examples of polymers - very large molecules formed by the joining of many small molecules called monomers. The uses of plastics are related to their chemical properties.

Naming polymers

The name of the polymer comes from the name of the monomer used to make it.

For example, the monomer ethene can be used to make the polymer poly(ethene).

Notice how the prefix poly- is put in front of the name of the monomer. Brackets are put around the name of the monomer.

The table shows some examples of monomers and the names of polymers made from them.