Main types of thermoplastics
Thermoplastics are plastics that can be melted and reshaped multiple times. They have an open-chain molecular structure. Plastics in packaging are easily identified by a symbol stamped on the base of the bottle or on the packaging itself.
These are the main types:
PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Light, rigid or semi-rigid, naturally transparent or colorless, PET is an excellent moisture and gas barrier and is resistant to impacts. It is one of the most easily recyclable plastics and is used to produce bottles, bags and synthetic fibers for clothing.
HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and LDPE (low-density polyethylene)
Polyethylene is the most common plastic material. Transparent or white, it has excellent insulating properties and is very strong, versatile and cheap.
HDPE is translucent, strong and easy to process, resistant to impacts and non-toxic. It is used to make bottles, tanks, bins and containers for transport.
LDPE can be translucent or transparent. Suitable for contact with food, it is the lightest and most heat-sensitive plastic. It is used for packaging, bags, sacks, cable coatings, containers, pipes and toys.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
PVC is a very versatile plastic, resistant to wear and tear, chemical and atmospheric agents and fire. It is used in the paper industry and for packaging, food containers, credit cards, furnishings, clothing and toys.
Transparent, light and strong, this material can be used as both a plastic and a fiber. Easily colored, it does not absorb water. It is used to make textile fibers, couplings, containers for transport, furniture, carpets, ropes and food containers.
PS (polystyrene or styrofoam)
One of the most important thermoplastic materials, it is transparent, hard and inflammable, very bright and inert against many corrosive agents. It can be given shiny or opaque colors.
Polystyrene is commonly used to replace glass, aluminum and wood because it is cheaper. It can also be used in packaging materials (including for foods), containers, boxes, lamps, disposable objects, cups and toys.