1 July to The 7 Types of Plastic and What They Mean for Food Packaging

Food Packaging

You may notice the recycling symbol on every paper and plastic box and container that you may find and buy, but did you also know that there are several different codes that can appear alongside it? These aren’t just codes for factory or organizational purposes, as they actually can help you figure out what the plastic is made of as well as how the plastic should be recycled. A number may also appear inside the triangle as well.

Here are the seven recycling codes as well as which material(s) they refer to:

1. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Polyethylene terephthalate is used to make some of the most common plastic items today. It is made from a resin that is easy to make, and any container made of PET should be fairly easy to recycle, and it often recycled into fibers made of polyester and bottles. Examples of plastics made from PET include water and soda bottles, peanut butter jars, take away food packaging, and salad dressing bottles.

2. HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

High density polyethylene is a thick plastic, but also one that is very common and easy to recycle. HDPE plastic is accepted by nearly the same recycling services as PET, and it can be recycled into bags or water bottles. Examples of plastics made from HDPE include milk jugs, detergent bottles, fabric softener containers, bleach bottles, and more.

3. V (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Alternatively known as PVC, polyvinyl chloride is a thermoplastic that is commonly made for pipework and other plumbing fixtures. It is very similar to HDPE, so the only way for most people to tell the difference is to refer to the recycle code as it appears. Despite also being used to make toys, furniture, and packaging materials, PVC is known as an environmental hazard. PVC is not easy to recycle, and few recycling services accept it.

4. LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

As HDPE is a thick plastic, low density polyethylene is a thinner, more flexible form of plastic. Examples of plastics made from LDPE include sandwich bags, plastic wrap, grocery bags, and squeezable bottles. An increasing number of recycling services are starting to accept LDPE for recycling and it pretty much can recycle into the applications as mentioned; light, thin sheet plastic.

5. PP (Polypropylene)

Polypropylene can be made into many different thicknesses, so it’s not defined to just one like HDPE and LDPE. Examples of plastics made from PP include plastic bottlecaps, food containers, and recyclable trays. PP is another common plastic accepted by recycling services and can be recycled into fiber resins.

6. PS (Polystyrene)

Polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam, is a thick, soft plastic; unlike the other 5 types on this list of Take Away Food Packaging. Despite PS’s bulky nature, it is amazingly light. Examples of plastics made from PS include Styrofoam cups, Styrofoam trays, packing peanuts, and packing dividers. It is difficult to recycle, but can be reused for other purposes, such as with shipping.

7. Others

Miscellaneous plastics, plastics that are mixed with one another to make a product, or are undefined are typically marked “Other” or “7”. They have no classification in regard to whether or not they can be recycled, so the general consensus among recycling services is that they are not. Examples of plastics in this category include bisphenol A (BPA), polycarbonate (PC), and polyurethane (PU).

As for food containers and other plastic fast food supplies, most of them are rated PET, meaning that they are safe and completely recyclable. Look for products made of PET to get lightweight, affordable plastic supplies that you can put quality meals in for your customers.