CIE AS Chemistry (9701) exams from 2022

Revision Notes

3.8.2 Disposal of Polymers

Disposal of Polymers

  • Though poly(alkenes)s are extremely important in everyday such as their use as plastics, the disposal of these polymers is problematic
  • Poly(alkenes) are very large alkane molecules which are unreactive and therefore do not undergo any chemical reactions; they are resistant to chemical attack
  • Due to their unreactivity, polymers are non-biodegradable and take up to hundreds of years to decompose when dumped in landfill sites
    • Throwing away poly(alkenes) therefore cause the long-term pollution of the environment
  • Burning the polymers results in harmful combustion products which again cause the pollution of the environment

Exam Tip

The disposal of polymers is a challenge due to their unreactivity, their non-biodegradability, and the formation of harmful combustion products when burnt.


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