There are several different plastics used in plastic food containers. Generally, the most commonly used plastics for food containers include HDPE (High Density Poly Ethylene, PP (Polypropylene, Polypropylene), LDPE (Low Density Poly Ethylene), K Resin (a type of Poly Styrene) and more. The following is a description of these materials.
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
In fact, many of the bottles available in the market are made from HDPE. It is one of the most common plastics used in manufacturing, HDPE is known for its durability and strength. While not as clear as other plastics, HDPE bottles and food containers are translucent and you are able to see your product inside the bottle. The thicker or heavier the bottle, the less clarity the bottles have. HDPE bottles and food containers also are able to withstand colder and freezing temperatures very well (-100 ℉) and higher temperatures moderately well (near 190℉).
Polypropylene is also a popular material for food containers. There are a few distinct differences between PP and HDPE. Polypropylene food containers are a contact clear, so even though the container appears to be cloudy, when the container is filled, your product is easily seen. Another benefit of polypropylene food containers is that they are able to withstand high temperatures, up near 240℉. However, polypropylene is less suitable for freezing temperatures where it can become brittle, but there are additives that can be added to polypropylene to make it able to withstand freezing temperatures.
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
The main benefit of low density polyethylene plastic food containers is that they are squeezable making them ideal for condiments, honey, and lotions. LDPE plastic food containers tend to have slightly better clarity than HDPE. Food containers made from LDPE are strong and have very good impact resistance. LDPE can also withstand cold temperatures very well but are not ideal for hot-filled applications.
If you are looking for a glossy clear container, then a plastic food container made from K-Resin may be what you are looking for. K-Resin is a type of food grade polystyrene that provides clarity along with very good impact resistance, as opposed to most polystyrene plastic containers that can be very brittle. K-Resin food containers can show off your product very well.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE)
One of the most common plastics used in the food industry is PET or PETE. PET food containers are as clear as glass and are often used to help people see your product. PET food containers do not have as high of temperature resistance (less than 120℉) as HDPE and PP and are not suitable for hot-fill applications without being specifically made for hot-fill by way of additives. It also can only handle cold temperatures to about -40℉.
Polystyrene can be used to make some extremely clear food containers and jars. Many food containers for the nutritional supplement and cosmetic industries are made from polystyrene. It is more rigid than PET but just as clear. One drawback of polystyrene is that it has lower impact resistance than many of the other plastics. Besides, although it is durable, it can crack or break with enough force.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC food containers can have good clarity allowing your product to be seen. PVC is the third most produced plastic, however, it is not as common in food packaging as other plastics. It has good chemical resistance and works well with soaps, lotions, and industrial applications.