HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) packaging is commonly used in many forms including bags, bottles, carboys and containers. HDPE is a commodity plastic derived from fossil fuels and is the most widely used types of plastic. The following reviews the properties of HDPE and how it lends itself to a variety of end uses in packing, type of packaging and applications and markets where HDPE packing is used.
1) Properties of HDPE
HDPE is a plastic with many applications in packaging due to its unique blend of properties. It is a hydrocarbon polymer created in a catalytic process that results in a final product containing a number of beneficial properties, including a high tensile strength, that complement many packaging needs. As it has been well-studied over the years, its properties are well documented. These properties include:
- Resistance to many solvents and chemicals including grease and oil
- Tough at low temperatures
- Impact resistant
- Good barrier
- High stiffness
- High tensile strength
Since it is recyclable, it can be considered better for the environment. Its impact resistance, especially at low temperatures, means that it can be used in cold environments without fear of embrittlement.
2) Types of HDPE Packaging
The two most common types of HDPE packaging are bottles and film. Bottles are manufactured in a process called blow molding. They are commonly available in various sizes up to a five-gallon capacity. For specific applications in chemicals, HDPE bottles can meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the United Nations regulations for hazmat packaging. Films are manufactured in a process termed extrusion. Many retail bags are made from HDPE in a variety of thicknesses, typically between 2-10 mils.
3) Applications for HDPE Packaging
The previously noted properties of HDPE make it a cost-effective, widely used packaging solution for a wide range of products and applications. Some of these applications include the following:
Hygiene and sanitation
- Dish detergent
- Laundry detergent
- Household cleaners
- Cereal and snack liners
HDPE packaging is used every day around us in many consumer, scientific and medical applications. The chemistry of the material allows for use in a wide array of applications. It can be processed in many forms to create bottles, containers and film. HDPE can be considered one of the most essential materials in the packaging industry.