Around 280 billion kilos of plastic is produced every year on this planet! Most of our consumer products are made of and/or packaged in plastic.
What is plastic? What is it made of?
Having insight in chemical legislation and the risks of restricted substances which might be present in plastics is a big must. A correct Bill of Material (BOM) is needed to be sure what is or isn't present within your product!
The chemistry of plastics is complex. You probably remember your chemistry secondary school lessons about atoms and molecules (groups of atoms). Plastics are simply chains of like molecules linked together. These chains are called polymers. This is why many plastics begin with “poly,” such as polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropylene.
"You must know from which type of plastic your product parts are made."
This information is essential for you to check if your product is compliant to chemical legislation, however unfortunately far from sufficient.
Plastics are made from an essential polymer mixed with a complex blend of materials or substances known as plastic additives. Without additives, plastics would not work, but with them they can be made tougher, coloured, flexible, antistatic, resistant to heat, resistant to UV-light, resistant to scratches etc. etc. Plastics may contain 30% to 40% additives.
"Use of many of these potential additives are restricted or banned."
A correct BOM list the parts of a consumer product and indicates for each part from which material it is made. Quite often these parts are made from a certain plastic.
You should know the composition of the plastic used in your product listen on your bill of material. This underlying document can be called a bill of substances or a plastic (compounding) formulation. You may consider plastics as a kind mixture of chemical substances.
As trainer with ProductIP I have learnt from many trainees that it is quite difficult to obtain a correct Bill of Material (BOM) from their Chinese suppliers and suppliers outside of the EU. Not mentioning the necessary underlying bill of substances.
Article written by: René van Gemert, Trainer at ProductIP