Polyethylene is a class of thermoplastics practically ubiquitous in consumer products. In its foam form, polyethylene is used in packaging, vibration dampening and insulation, as a barrier or buoyancy component, or as material for cushioning. It is most frequently seen as a packaging material. Sixty million tons of polyethylene is produced worldwide each year, which is even more than it sounds like when you consider its low density. In the UK, polyethylene is known as polythene. Worldwide, the material is sometimes abbreviated as PE. Found in all types of packaging, polyethylene is used to wrap furniture, computer components, electronics, sporting goods, plants, frozen foods, clothing, bowling balls, signs, metal products, and more. It comes in forms designed to minimize static or maximize thermal insulation, among dozens of other variants. The material is impervious to bacteria and mold and is tear-resistant. Polyethylene is among the cheapest of artificially fabricated materials, but not as cheap as most raw materials, as the polymerization process consumes energy. In addition, distribution costs are normal because polyethylene cannot be compressed much for shipping.