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Polymers are used in almost every area of modern living. Grocery bags, soda and water bottles, textile fibers, phones, computers, food packaging, auto parts, and toys all contain polymers.

Even more-sophisticated technology uses polymers. For example, "the membranes for water desalination, carriers used in controlled drug release and biopolymers for tissue engineering all use polymers," according to the ACS.

Popular polymers for manufacturing include polyethylene and polypropylene. Their molecules can consist of 10,000 to 200,000 monomers.