Types of Plastic Packaging Explained

1. Polypropylene (PP)

PP is a thermoplastic polymer. PP is usually opaque in appearance and is commonly used for packaging which is intended for use in a microwave.

PP is recyclable but not as widely recycled as it could be.

Polypropylene has a high melting point which is why it is widely used for food packaging as it is durable and moisture-resistant. Making it ideal for holding hot liquids such as soups, curries or stews.

Most local authorities and councils in the UK accept PP packaging as part of their standard recycling schemes.

2. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

PET is the most commonly used thermoplastic polymer resin. It is transparent, durable and has a good resistance power against chemicals.

It is 100% recyclable and the most recycled plastic worldwide, this is due to the fact it is easy to break down to its original form and remould. It is popular to use for cold liquids or cold foods due to its low heat resistance.

Almost all local authorities in the UK accept PET/RPET as part of their standard recycling collection schemes, this type of plastic packaging can also be recycled back into food-grade products making it the most sustainable type of plastic packaging.

3. Polylactic Acid (PLA)

PLA is a thermoplastic which is derived from lactic monomers that come from renewable raw materials. It is often made up from sugarcane or corn starch. Unlike other plastics it does not need crude oil to be produced.

Although PLA is more sustainable than other plastics and marketed as compostable, it still is a plastic. PLA can’t be composted easily and needs to go to specialist recycling centres to be broken down and re-purposed, unlike bagasse which can be put in your compost bin at home.

PLA is only commercially compostable, it will break down after 12 weeks given it has been given to the correct facility. You can dispose of PLA packaging through your food waste collection scheme. PLA is not suitable for home composting.

4. Polystrene (PS)

PS is a naturally transparent and synthetic thermoplastic. It is mainly made in two forms – solid plastic or foam. The main characteristic includes softening when applied to heat, making it easy to form into a various products such as coffee cup lids or food containers.

Although PS is recyclable, it is the least recycled plastic. Because of this, PS packaging is slowly being phased out and many manufacturers are changing to PET or PP. PS can be placed in the recycling bin for sorting at a Materials Recovery Facility.

We at Sovereign pride ourselves in looking for the most sustainable packaging options to provide our customers and will work alongside them to advise on what materials and products will work best for their business and to improve their environmental credentials. We can explain what plastics are best for recycling, which materials to avoid, smooth the switch to compostable packaging such as Bagasse, Bamboo, Palm and Plastic Free coffee cups. For further information on how to upgrade your packaging please contact our team today for a free no obligation packaging review.

Categories : Packaging