Sample of clear shrink wrap, 1985.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Polyethylene film used for pallet wrapping. Polythene (also known as polyethene or polyethylene) was discovered in 1933 by Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett at ICI's research laboratory at Winnington, Durham, as the result of a laboratory accident. The first patents for polythene were registered in 1936, and a year later the first practical use for the material, as a film, was discovered. Since World War II it has been used for manufacturing a wide range of products.