Polymers come in a multitude of varieties and can be adapted to many different applications. There are hundreds of different types of plastics used for structural and design applications, but a relatively small amount of plastics are readily used in packaging applications. Why? Due to restrictive regulations, lack of correct physical/chemical properties, cost, etc. Most polymers used in packaging fall under the “plastic” or more specifically, “thermoplastic” category. These types of materials are able to be formed and shaped once heat is applied. You are probably familiar with some of these plastics, as they are represented in the 6 main recycling codes found on plastics packaging.
One type is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE). It is clear, tough, and shatterproof. This material is a good candidate for peanut butter jars, water/soda bottles or narrow neck containers, such as mouthwash, vitamins, or salad dressing.
A second type of polymer is High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). This material is flexible, strong, chemical resistant, and opaque. HDPE is a good material for milk jugs, juice bottles, dairy tubs, liquid detergent bottles, medicine bottles, or grocery and trash bags.
A third type of polymer is Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This material’s toughness and chemical resistance make this material good for shampoo bottles, cooking oil, salad dressing, PVC piping, window cleaner bottles, blister packaging (pill dispenser with foil cover push-through) and transparent display packaging.
Hopefully we’ve helped you learn a little more about different types of polymers, and you can use these tips when deciding your next plastic package! Check out our Polymers in Packaging course to learn more.