Consumer Goods

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.

Growing Demand For Polyethylene Pet Products

Pet care is a lucrative industry that thrives on polymers to package food, create toys, and form parts of other pet-related products that consumers increasingly demand and use to pamper their pets. PE plastic is frequently used in wet food pouches and other pet food packaging due to its convenience, optimal shelf life, and premium shelf or screen appeal.6 And pet toys made of LLDPE offer resistance to breaking or staining, while looking like less durable materials.7

The pet care global market was valued at more than $232 billion in 2020, and is projected to top $350 billion by 2027.8 That comes amid a shift from pet ownership to pet parenting that indicates pets are considered part of the family today, and not just an accessory, with 95% of domestic pet owners agreeing with that statement. That is an all-time high.9

Examples of Plastics in Consumer Goods

Plastic Container Lids

LLDPE is popular for use in applications where heat sealing is necessary -- like flexible lids -- due to its toughness, flexibility, and relative transparency.10

Pet Food Packaging

Polyethylene (PE) plastic is traditionally used in most pet food packaging, like wet food pouches. PE offers convenience, optimal shelf life and premium shelf or screen appeal.11

Kids’ Toys

Because of its cost-effectiveness, molding capabilities, the possibility of producing complex forms, and more, rotomolded toys such as plastic cars and toy benches are often made of LLDPE.

Pet Toys

LLDPE for pet toys has a variety of benefits, such as its resistance to breaking or staining, and uncanny ability to mimic the appearance of other materials.12

Electrical Appliances

Polymers are used in everything from simple cables to smartphones due to its electrical and mechanical resistance, fire safety, light weight, and resource efficiencies.13

High-Quality Pellets for Consumer Goods

Being confident in the quality of your end product and the resin used to make it is critical to success in the market. That’s why Shell Polymers goes the extra mile with our quality assurance so that converters who work with us know that the high quality resin they get will be the same grade and that our final product is on-spec for each application.

We will accomplish this through our state-of-the-art analytical lab, which our team of experienced polymer scientists will use to ensure lot-to-lot consistency in each batch of produced resin. Since it's being built from the ground up, our labs will be stocked with the latest testing equipment, so that we can conduct the highest level of quality control for our resin. Our technical service team can run resin qualification on our commercial-sized PE conversion equipment in the applications hall, so converters can get a feel for how it will work on your plant's similar machines.

Discover How Industry Trends Impact Polymer Markets

Delve deeper into the industry changes impacting polyethylene production and read commentary from our Polymer Pros and Pioneers.

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Technical Expertise for Converting PE Into Plastic Consumer Goods

Francisco Alvarez

Francisco Alvarez, Senior Technical Service Engineer

Francisco Alvarez, Senior Technical Service Engineer, Blow Molding and Injection Molding

An industry veteran, Francisco is an experienced chemical engineer and a certified project management professional. He has spent over 25 years in the polymers industry, imparting technical support globally to both converters and polypropylene and polyethylene resin producers. He also developed new polymer additives and formulations for PP and PE (performance enhancement and nucleating agents), for which he has received two R&D 100 Awards and several patents.

Michael Misco

Michael Misco, Technical Service Engineer

Michael Misco, Technical Service Engineer, Blow Molding 

A member of the Shell Polymer team since 2018, Michael has nearly 10 years of experience supporting extrusion blow molding processes for new production line start-ups and leading R&D programs for new technology. During his tenure at a global leader in plastic packaging, he developed and led a focused continuous improvement team into high-risk, high-demand production lines and worked on overall improvements and fine-tuning of in-line processes for the latest industrial breakthrough of ThermaSet.

Elliot Carnevale

Elliot Carnevale, Technical Service Engineer

Elliot Carnevale, Technical Service Engineer, Injection Molding

A member of the Shell Polymer team since 2018, Elliot has nearly 10 years of experience helping customers innovate in the injection molding, extrusion, and thermoforming industries. During this time, he focused much of his effort on customer-centric development programs, for which he was recently granted his second patent for a novel polyolefin composition. In addition to his role in supporting customers, Elliot represents Shell Polymers and supports the plastics industry through board positions with the American Injection Molding Institute, Penn State Behrend, and the Society for Plastics Engineers.







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