Plastics are made from basic products such as ethylene, styrene, propylene, vinyl chloride or acrylonitrile, mostly petroleum or gas derivatives. Polymers are synthesized (polyethylene, polypropylene etc.), taking the form of relatively viscous resins, powders or even granules. To obtain a solid or hollow object, a film or foam, a transformation technique must be implemented.
There is a multitude of plastics with different manufacturing processes. The most common ones are thermoplastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). There is also a multitude of uses: packaging, buildings, transport, electricity etc.
Rubber can be considered part of this group, although it is largely agreed that this material, notably because of its specific implementation (vulcanization), does not belong to it. Similarly, the industrial rubber sector is characterised by the heterogeneity of its products and markets (automobile, industrial or retail equipment, construction sector, health and medical sector, transport etc.). These two industrial sectors should be distinguished as they present different challenges in terms of risks. For plastics, the upstream industry is represented by petrochemicals. Thus, the main threats to the environment are: air emissions (notably the production of volatile organic compounds (VOC), greenhouse gas emission etc.) and aqueous discharge as well as related health hazards, accidental risks (presence of flammable, toxic and explosive substances in these industries), the risk of site and soil pollution in the long term and the treatment of waste and water.
Rubber also poses the issue of treatment of these end-of-life products. Thus, tyres are subject to a decree which organises this specific sector, aimed at taking into account the treatment of the end-of-life product, from the manufacturing process to the waste status, at the expense of the producers.