A Guide to Commonly Used Plastics in Container Packaging

Selecting the most effective packaging container for your product requires some consideration. Plastic is ideal for many reasons. It is light weight, durable, flexible and inexpensive to produce. Plastic is resistant to most chemicals. Can be clear, opaque or colored. Plastic has a smaller carbon footprint than alternative packaging material such as glass and metal. Plastic takes less energy to produce than glass and metal. Most plastics are recyclable. The versatility and variety of plastic types provide you with a wide range of options to best suit your product packaging requirements.

The following listed plastics are among the most commonly used in the packaging industry.


PET Recycle Icon

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) or (PETE) - PET plastic is one of the most commonly used materials in the packaging industry. PET is lightweight, shatterproof and resistant to most chemicals. It is clear as glass. It can also be produced in a variety of colors, the most common being amber, blue or green. It’s a good choice for products that need to be clearly displayed. Commonly used for beverages, peanut butter, cooking oils, condiments, cleaning chemicals, snack containers.


HDPE Recycle Icon

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) - HDPE plastic is often chosen for its durability. It has good impact and chemical resistance. HDPE isn’t as clear as other plastics but natural HDPE is contact clear meaning the product can be seen in the container. HDPE is ideal for frozen products such as ice cream. When frozen HDPE doesn’t become brittle like other plastics. HDPE Bottles are ideal for liquid products and pharmaceutical products. Commonly used for juice and dairy jugs, liquid cleaning soaps, janitorial supplies, liquid personal care products, pet care, automotive and pharmaceutical products.


PVC Recycle Icon

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) - PVC is not a common plastic in the packaging industry. It is clear. It has a fairly good chemical and moisture resistance. Because of this, PVC is most commonly used for various chemical bottles. It is also used in larger spice containers.


PET Recycle Icon

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) - LDPE plastic is flexible. It has similar qualities as HDPE. It is often used for squeezable, dispensing containers. It has a high impact and chemical resistance. LDPE plastic is ideal for use with products that require higher control when dispensing product, such as dropper bottles, personal and hair care bottles, chemical, and art products like dyes and paints. Commonly used for squeezable condiment and confectionery packaging, squeezable paint, dye, and squeezable adhesive containers.


 PP Recycling Icon

Polypropylene (PP) - PP plastic is ideal for hot fill applications. It can be filled at temperatures up to 240 degrees. It is more rigid than other plastics. It is translucent. PP bottles are often used for spices, sauces, syrups.


 PS Recycling Icon

Polystyrene (PS) - PS plastic is a clear and rigid plastic. It has a low impact resistance and should not be used with solvents. Similar to PET, PS can be as clear as glass. It is a hard plastic but due to its brittle nature there are limitations that need to be considered when choosing PS. PS is commonly used for carryout food containers, cosmetic jars, eating utensils, cups and storage containers.

APG Plastics Chart


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