Thursday, 11 August 2011

My home town....... & the discovery of Polythene

My home town Northwich sits right in the centre of the county of Cheshire.
The Chemical Industry is still a big employer in the town producing Soda Ash.

Founded by John Brunner and Ludwig Mond.
Brunner Mond was established in the 1870's  and eventually merged with other firms in the 1920's to form ICI
 An event happened in 1933 that changed the world at the ICI factory less than a mile from my home.

The River Weaver
The factory (producing Soda Ash) can be seen from my walks to my local woodlands.
It was the work of ICI's Eric Fawcett and Reginald Gibson who decided to experiment one morning  with gases under high pressure.
They spotted that part of their apparatus looked like it had been dipped in paraffin wax.
Gibson's simple notes made at the time at the company's base in my home town Northwich belied there importance.
 "Waxy solid found in reaction tube".
My little town had discovered Polythene.
Two years later ICI developed the means for making polythene on an industrial scale.
Shortly afterwards it was used for the first round- the-world telephone cable.
During the Second World War it won near heroic status as a vital radar component.
It is a wonderful product with a vast amount of uses.
Unfortunately it was also used to produce...



Plastic bags have been banned from a lot of countries... but not in the UK.
We apparently still use over a billion a year despite continued efforts to have them banned.

My town is proud of it's industrial past and polythene is a product with many uses.
I would just like to add the plastic bag was invented elsewhere....


TexWisGirl said...

thanks for presenting both the good and the bad of this discovery. surely, it changed all of our lives across many lands, but is definitely impacting the environment (due to human carelessness and waste).

Wobbly Dog said...

Most of uk shop bags these days are referred to as "Plastic" but are actually polythene. It's easier to say........ But, it's the selfish people that dispose of their rubbish in a thoughtless way - sadly we will never stop those type of people, and if it wasn't for plastic bags it would be something else they thoughtlessly chucked. Sad.... but a great article Andrew

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Good post that I had no idea was going to take me where it did in the end. I also did NOT know that some countries had banned plastic bags. I'll wager a bet with you. The UK will beat the U.S. in adopting a ban on plastic bags. Unfortunately, we both will be long gone before one of us ever has to pay the other one off on the bet.

grammie g said...

Hi Andrew..I think that the comment above sums up exactly what I would say !!
It seems that so many things start with good intentions, but people just don't care!!
I always think about disposable diapers ,...great for the parents, but what after that???
Very informative ...Grace

missing moments said...

Andrew, this was such a good post and as much as plastic has been valued by us humans, it has had a costly affect upon our environment and creatures. Thanks for this post!

NicoleB said...

I didn't know where the original idea was made up at.
It's cool to have such a place nearby.
The sad byproduct.... well.... almost anything that once was an original great idea has today some bad byproduct :/
Maybe one day we get there and the whole world is plastic bag free.
But like it was said before, we most likely, will all be gone before it happens - or before we will see the benefits of it.

JM said...

Very interesting post! I'm always very impressed by this plastic bag thing. When you travel in some 3rd world countries by land you know when a city is near by the amount of plastic bags on the road sides, it's awful. I don't know when the tile panels on top were made but I like their Art Deco look.

Wobbly Dog said...

We sell (well, sold, as they have all gone!) fair trade bags made out of plastic bags thrown away in India. Locals collect and process and make a solid thick bag that will be used for an eternity.....

cieldequimper said...

Same here and I just cannot undestand why people still want them...

Indrani said...

Great post!
Awareness is very low in the third world countries.

JM said...

Thank you so much for the informative comment. The lift is simply amazing!

Maelgi said...

hola amigo bonito tema, candente y problemático. ciertos descubrimientos para el bien , luego fueron para mal.
hay bolsas degrada-bles, pero el tema de la bolsa en la tortuga no solo, en todos los animales marinos , en el pacifico hay una isla de plástico tanto como España, así que seremos los únicos responsables.
no slo en los paises sub...en todo el mundo, en el industrial, capitalista.
cuidemos el planeta. abrazos.