Since the late 1970s, plastic containers have been widely adopted as packaging materials for beverages, detergent, and other consumer goods. Compounds such as polyethylene terephthalate have given plastic container several advantages, including toughness, energy saving, and ease of production. What’s more, plastic containers are economical to make, safe to use, and recyclable.
Unlike glass containers, plastic containers are rugged and resilient, they don’t shatter into sharp pieces when dropped, making products and packaging safe to handle. Because plastics are polymers, which are long molecules made by linking many short ones together, they have useful physical properties such as toughness and resistance to chemicals. The same resilience makes plastic containers unlikely to leak or burst, protecting the contents as well as exterior shipping cartons.
Plastic materials are easy to mold into a wide variety of container shapes, improving their appearance and utility. For example, manufacturers incorporate integral handles, measurement marks and pouring lips into some types of plastic containers. In addition, plastics can range from crystal clear to any shade or color, whether translucent or opaque, making products and brands easy to identify by sight. Plastic containers require no paint, the coloring material is mixed into the plastic resin, so it never runs, rubs or washes off.
Plastic containers are lighter in weight than their glass counterparts, reducing energy and costs required to ship products. Besides, because plastics are soft and have relatively low melting points, plastic containers take less energy to manufacture than glass.
After the first use, PET and other types of plastic containers are easily recycled into many types of secondary products, including carpet fibers, pillow stuffing, tote bags, and strapping materials. Some beverage bottles and nonfood containers also use recycled plastic. The light weight of plastic container minimizes the cost of transporting materials to recycling centers.