Plastics are synthetic petroleum derivatives. Plastics vary immensely in temperature tolerance, hardness, resiliency and so on. Due to this, plastics see use in almost all industrial applications today. All plastics are polymers.
History of plastics
Plastics get the name from the thermoplasticity of cellulose nitrate, the first synthetic polymer. While it has found uses as an explosive, it was also used as a replacement for ivory billiard balls. Further development produced something less explosive, using acetic acid instead of nitric acid to form cellulose acetate, which is used in film.