Polyethylene (PE) can be found in a wide array of household products due to its moisture and temperature resistance as well as its higher tensile strength. It’s a popular material in a variety of industries including food packaging, toys, and household goods. And demand appears to be trending toward upscale finishes and sustainable alternatives, for which recyclable PE is a practical solution.
In order to capitalize on consistent demand from end users and consumers, converters must ensure they have a reliable and consistent supply of polyethylene resin to maximize their high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) product output.
Plastics in Home Products Ride the At-Home Trend
Plastic consumer goods help homeowners promote and manage togetherness, especially during a time when the pandemic has limited out-of-home activities. For example, PE household food containers and lids empower homeowners to cook from home and preserve leftovers with lightweight, durable containers that are simple to use, regardless of age or ability. Plastics have been key during the pandemic because of the hygenic properties it has, which was especially important amid health concerns spurred by COVID.
Plastic has many attributes that make it ideal for products in the home. Some of these benefits include high durability, and the ability to withstand sanitation and regular wear and tear. It also enables electrical appliances to be safely used at home due to plastic’s inability to conduct electricity and resistance to heat.
Even before the pandemic, LLDPE and HDPE were commonly found throughout many homes. LLDPE insulation is popular in irons, coffee makers, hair dryers, electric shavers, etc. That’s due to its electric and heat insulation, light weight, freedom of design, durability, energy efficiency, and recyclability. It is also hygienic, as it is durable and easy to clean, and is often found in packaging to help guard reusable healthcare items from damage and contamination.
PE is also used instead of wood and metal to create furniture and furniture pieces that mimic the appearance of other materials but are easier to clean, chemically resistant, durable, and fire retardant.1 With consumers increasingly focused on health, PE offers a benefit with bedding. Mattress covers made with polyethylene are the only safe covers that can actually stop volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from off-gassing from mattresses, since it’s safe and non-toxic.2
Polyethylene is Ideal for Use in Durable & Safe Toys
Polyethylene is an ideal, long-lasting choice for toymakers compared to alternatives like metal or wood, because of its cost-effectiveness, molding capabilities, and the possibility of producing complex forms. PE’s chemical resistance makes it easy to sanitize, which also makes it a safer choice in environments such as daycare centers, schools, and homes, where frequent disinfecting is a priority.
The pandemic has shifted consumer’s views on toys, increasing interest in products that promote togetherness, inclusivity, and education. Families are seeking new toys with those end goals in mind, as well as inclusive offerings that can be enjoyed by kids of varying abilities and interests.3
Toy sales in 2020 were up 16% overall, with rising demand seen especially in outdoor play products. Weather-related products were a huge part of that activity, as parents sought ways to get their kids outside when social distancing limited the places they could go. Over the winter, products like sleds and tools to make snow buildings went “flying off shelves.”4 There is also a growing demand for toys that help develop children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, toys that promote mindfulness and self-care, and feel-good toys to make kids smile: a pandemic-triggered trend as parents sought tools to promote child wellness in a time of stress and uncertainty.5
Toys are likely to remain an area with strong market opportunity and growth. COVID showed the strength and sustainability of this market, giving strong indications that converters’ services will be needed. The lingering pandemic, driven by offshoots like the Delta variant, was also likely to require a strong plastics supply. Plastic’s propensity for easy cleaning and hygienic values made it a valuable tool in fighting and containing the COVID threat.