CHEMICALS: The Poly Pushers

In the fast-growing plastics industry, the fastest grower of all is a leathery, translucent material with a tongue-twisting name: polyethylene. Because "poly" is shatterproof, it is ideal for practice golf balls, "squeeze bottles" for deodorants and cosmetics, and cups, plates and saucers. Because it remains flexible even at low temperatures, it is fine for ice-cube trays and refrigerator containers; because it is acid-resistant, it is used in photo-developing tanks and piping for chemical plants. In ten years, U.S. output of poly has increased almost twenty fold, to 125 million Ibs. ;...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!