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A Look at the Many Types of Plastics In Custom Thermoforming

Custom thermoforming, the process by which plastic is transformed into custom product packaging, is a service that many industries need. There are many different types of plastic used for making packaging and other products. Each type of plastic has characteristics which make the idea material for specific products.

There are basically seven categories of plastic and each is identified with a number. This number is known as a resin identification code. When packaging or a plastic product are thrown away, this code lets the recycling company know what type of plastic was used to make the item and how it should be recycled. Virtually all thermoplastics are recyclable, which makes plastic a highly sustainable material.

The two most common types of plastic accepted by recycling centers are those with a 1 or 2 on them. The “1” indicates that the item was created using polyethylene terephthalate or PETE (sometimes known as PET). This includes water bottles, soda bottles and plastic food jars, such as those which hold peanut butter or jam.

The number “2” indicates that the plastic used was high-density polyethylene or HDGE. Milk jugs typically are made out of HDPE, as well as other liquids such as shampoo and even laundry detergent and bleach. While HDPE cannot be used again to hold food products, it is recycled and used to make many important items such as ropes, plastic tool boxes, storage crates and even fencing and plastic furniture.

Plastics featuring the number “3” are made from polyvinyl chloride or what we simply call PVC. Obviously pipes are the most common item that springs to mind when one thinks about PVC, but it also can be used to flooring, signs and is used as insulation for electrical cables.

Low-density polyethylene is the type of plastic known by the number “4,” and this plastic is used to make sandwich bags, grocery bags and that thin plastic wrap we use to cover food. When recycled, it is transformed into plastic lumber, garbage cans and even plastic furniture.

When you see a “5” on a plastic product, this indicates that polypropylene was used to create the item. It is a very strong type of plastic and can be used for food items such as a yogurt or butter container as well as disposable diapers and prescription bottles. Carpeting often is made out of polypropylene as well as lids for items such as ketchup bottles. Reusable containers often are made from polypropylene because this plastic can withstand the hot water and steam in a dishwasher.

You probably have used polystyrene many times before, and this plastic, which is identified by a “6,” is better known as Styrofoam. Like most thermoplastics, polystyrene can be recycled so if your curbside recycling program accepts this plastic, be sure to toss plates, cups, packing materials and all other polystyrene items in your recycling bin.

If a product has a resin code of “7” this indicates that several different types of plastic have been used. Generally these types of plastic are harder to recycle, so if sustainability is one of your biggest goals, then you might want to opt for other types of plastic.

At Indepak, we are committed to providing clients with custom packaging solutions that truly meet their needs. As a thermoforming company we can help you through every step of the process from design all the way through to fulfilment and shipping of your product. We can create all sorts of custom thermoform packaging and other, such as blister packaging, clamshell packaging, plastic thermoform trays and much more.

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