Unfortunately for us all there isn’t one type of plastic which we can use for everything and can be completely recycled. This is because in different applications (industrial, commercial and domestic), we need plastics to have variation to suit the conditions in which they will be applied.
To help consumers The American Society of Plastics Industry have devised standard markings to identify different types of plastic, and these are now used globally for identifying plastics.
All plastics have different properties and suited uses, some of which we are now going to detail.
PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
Low water absorption properties, excellent electrical properties, very resistant to chemicals and environmental stress. They hold colour well and are resistant to heat and heat aging.
PET plastics are used in many markets as they offer a good balance between cost and performance including thermal, electrical and mechanical, as well as other physical properties.
Applications include: door handles, fog lamps, wipers, egg boxes connectors, circuit breakers and even lighting.
HDPE – High-density Polyethylene
HDPE plastics tend to be low cost and are flexible and weatherproof with good low temperature durability and strength.
Applications include: toys, household and kitchen ware, Jerri cans, chemical drums and food wrapping material.
PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride
PVC is a very durable construction material which will last a long time. It comes in many colours and can be used either flexibly or rigidly. Surprisingly 57% of it is made from salt.
Applications include: construction, healthcare and automotive
LDPE – Low Density Polyethylene
Used in all types of squeeze bottles such as fairly liquid it also has its uses in water and gas pipes. It is a semi-rigid plastic, tough and translucent with good weatherproof properties.
PP – Polypropylene
This plastic has a good resistance to heat is tough and does not fatigue so easily and offers good chemical and electrical resistance. It is often used in flexible and rigid packaging and is often used in the automotive sector for the construction of interior parts. It can also be used as a fibre in applications such as tape and strapping.
PS – Polystyrene
We will all be familiar with polystyrene and its use in protecting large items during transport. However polystyrene can also be used to create crystal clear display packaging such as CD cases.
OTHER – Other types of plastics
This is all other plastics which cannot be categorised within the above and in many cases are much harder to recycle.
Banner photo via Rubbermaid Products