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What is the difference between plastic and plastics when referring to the things made of plastic?

  • The plastics used in food packaging are a breeze to recycle: you just melt them down and reform them

  • In exchange for the convenience of using plastic, you also give up something some people hold dear-privacy.

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In the first example, plastics is a noun that refers to multiple kinds of plastic material used in packaging. A plastic bag may be composed out of a different kind of plastic from a plastic water bottle, for instance.

In the second example you give, "plastic" is being used as a metonym for credit card, as in the title of this book: Paying with Plastic: The Digital Revolution in Buying and Borrowing

Plastic can also be an adjective that refers to malleability.

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According to Wikipedia:

Plastic is material consisting of any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that are malleable and so can be molded into solid objects.
Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass and often contain other substances.

The word ‘Plastic’ refers to something which is flexible or malleable. Although most synthetic polymers are flexible, there are a many materials which also have these properties including lead, butter, clay, and beeswax.

The word ‘Plastics’ refers to polymeric materials… these can be synthetic or natural, thermoset or thermoplastic, and semi-crystalline or amorphous.
(Source)

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  • sorry you missed that the plastic in this case was a metaphor for a credit/debit card – WendyG May 28 '19 at 17:05

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