In 1951, by chance, Phillips Petroleum made its way into the plastic business. In an effort to convert ethylene and propylene for use in gasoline, two researchers (J. Paul Hogan and Robert L. Banks) discovered polypropylene when in their research for methods to alter ethylene and propylene into ingredients for natural gas they found that it created a solid polymer. This polymer and the plastics that resulted from it are now a mainstay in the global industry thus placing it at the core of this multi-billion dollar commerce.

Knowing that the discovery was significant, though not yet sure of its meaning Phillips continued to work with the substance and eventually introduced HDPE in 1954 under the brand Marlex® polyethylene, and while the hype was that it would fly off the shelves it debuted with some mild disappointment.

Oddly enough, everything changed when the hula hoop was invented thus the plastic was found to be quite useful. Marlex® was used in making baby bottles (because of its capability of withstanding sterilization temperatures) and for shatterproof food storage containers. The toy’s staying power in the market enabled Phillips to improve the process of developing the polymer into many other grades and usage capabilities. As amazing as it sounds, the invention of the hula hoop can take responsibility for today’s more practical use of plastics.

These new discoveries include a few things like:
corflute – A ribbed plastic with enough flexibility to be cut and shaped (often used in signage).
EVA Foam – A soft and flexible plastic that used in floor mats, sports padding and insulated snow boots.





PU Foam – A soft, but durable foam that keeps it shape over time and use. Most furniture cushions, some pillows and even car seat cushions are made with PU Foam.


Polypropylene Sheet – a lightweight, flexible and durable plastic used a lot in packaging and even used by some disposable diaper companies between the inner and outer layers as a protective lining.




On you can find numerous products utilizing all of the plastics options, along with great descriptions of what they are, what they’re used for, and how to get them.

In today’s day and age, this polymer has also helped create a cleaner living environment. Its ability to be easily broken down into the environment has allowed the created of the environmentally friendly plastic bag.

Reading Recommendation: Love The Planet And Reuse Plastic Containers

Polypropylene and Its Uses