Polymeric materials are used from prehistoric times. Polymers are abundant in nature, found in all living systems, and materials such as wood, paper, leather, natural fibers have found extensive use. While natural polymers retain their intrinsic importance, today synthetic materials are mostly used. The first semisynthetic polymers, formed by chemical modification of natural materials, were made in the second half of the nineteenth century. Absolutely synthetic polymers were developed in the twentieth century, most in the period 1950–1970s driven by industry growth. These are the so-called plastics of recent society. The feedstock for polymerization processes is petrochemical, and environmental issues have led to more recent developments of polymers from renewable resources.
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