• What Is Ethylene?

    Ethylene is a hydrocarbon with the formula C2H4. Found in nature, it is a colorless, flammable gas with a very faint odor when in its purest form. As a hydrocarbon with carbon-carbon double bonds and only two carbons, ethylene is the simplest alkene.

    Ethylene is widely used to create many household items. Its largest use globally is for polyethylene - the world's most used plastic - for carrier bags, trash bags and garbage cans. The second largest use is in PVC-related products.  Ethylene is also used to produce  glycols, which are found in antifreeze and cleaning products; polyester, found in clothing and plastic bottles; and styrene, found in Styrofoam cups, tires and TV casings. As a natural compound, ethylene is even used in horticulture to accelerate fruit ripening.

    More than 150 million tons of ethylene are produced every year throughout the world, more than any other organic compound.