Recyclable polyethylene: what’s on the market?

Innovation

Recyclable plastics are garnering more and more traction within the packaging industry. The industry has invested significantly in R&D to render plastics more recyclable and upend the traditional, linear industrial production to make room for a circular economy where post-consumer plastics are reused and reintroduced.

Polyethylene (PE) is one of the most widely used mateials with an annual global production of approximately 65 million tons. PE is a highly versatile material with a simple molecular structure and relatively low production costs.

Read on to discover everything PE has to offer, including how it is recyclable! While global PE production is significant, it is possible to offset PE’s environmental footprint by reintroducing recycled PE into the production chain.

WHAT IS POLYETHYLENE (PE) AND WHAT ARE ITS PRINCIPAL USES?

Polyethylene is a chemically inert, thermoplastic polymer. It is the most widely used plastic in the world, being made into innumerable products ranging from shopping bags and plastic packaging, to baby bottles, toys, water tanks, and piping and wire insulation (it isn’t great at conducting heat and electricity).

PE is very tough and malleable at room temperatures.  PE composition density can be modified to produce two different branches: low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), distinguishable by their level of density and firmness.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a rigid material made into different types of packaging products, including: milk bottles, cosmetics packaging, household cleaner packaging, chemical product packaging and hazardous goods containers, pipe and cabling insulation.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is a highly flexible, sturdy, heat-resistant material, even more so than HDPE. It is most often made into packaging film, or is used for wire and cable insulation.

Polyethylene is subject to various types of polymerisation processes to attain the desired industrial outcome. These include:

  • Extrusion: used to make film, cable, twine and piping.
  • Co-extrusion: used to make multi-layer films.
  • Injection moulding: used to produce more complex 3D parts.
  • Injection blow moulding: used to make bottles.
  • Blow-extrusion: used to make grocery bags and small-calibre piping.
  • Extrusion and blow-moulding: also used to make bottles.
  • Rotational-moulding: used to make large-scale, hollow shapes, such as water tanks.

WHAT ARE THE TOP RECYCLABLE POLYETHYLENE PRODUCTS?

At SP Group, we believe that food security, industrial safety and sustainability do not only go hand in hand, but are also the cornerstones of a greener, more harmonious future. This is why we have developed two, 100% recyclable, monomaterial polyethylene to replace non-recyclable structures: PE HB ECO and PE ECO.

We developed both solutions in response to the EU’s recycling guidelines.  PE HB ECO and PE ECO are part of the recyclable, monomaterial Eco product line.

PE HB ECO is a high-barrier, polyethylene-based composition. What is most notable about this product is its transparency and its high thermal treatment threshold, capable of withstanding pasteurisation, hot-fill and microwaving processes.

PE HB ECO is mostly used to make plastic packaging for sauces, liquid-based products, rice- and legume-based pre-prepared dishes, food supplements and superfoods, such as chia seeds and poppy seeds. It is also used to create packaging for dried fruit and nuts, and other dried foods, to name a few. It is also used to make packaging for the non-food sector, such as for cosmetics, gels, personal hygiene and beauty products.

PE ECO is also a great solution for meat- and milk-based products, such as sausage and cheese snacks; frozen fish and seafood; dried fruit and nuts, including spices and cereal and legume superfoods. PE ECO may also be used to make packaging solutions for personal hygiene products, gels, shampoo and cleaning products, among others.

PE ECO especially stands out because of its limpid transparency and because it can withstand pasteurisation, hot-fill and microwaving processes.

Contact us for a personal consultation to determine which recyclable plastic packaging solution is best for you. SP GROUP is your partner for effective, green packaging solutions.


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