Common HDPE applications includes pipe for construction and infrastructure

HDPE Applications: Industries Using High-Density Polyethylene to Thrive

Between 2020-2025, the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) market is expected to register a CAGR of over 4%.¹

By Shell Polymers on Dec 17, 2020

With global demand disruptions due to COVID-19, there is now a higher demand for materials that enhance sanitization and bring hygiene benefits to consumers.

Because of high-density polyethylene properties such as moisture and chemical resistance, durability, and versatility, HDPE use is expected to rise in industries where hygiene and sanitation is becoming critical such as consumer packaged goods and home and personal care.

Across polyethylene converting processes, there are a variety of HDPE applications that play key roles in helping their industries thrive:

HDPE Pipes in Construction & Infrastructure

Compared to its metal counterpart, HDPE pipes are a more corrosion resistant option than alternatives. HDPE pipes are also more cost effective and lighter in weight, making them the preferred choice over materials like clay, ductile iron, and copper pipes. These differentiators are just one reason why the Global HDPE Pipes Market is expected to reach $19.7 Billion by 2024.2

HDPE’s resistance to rust is especially important when underground infrastructure is experiencing nearly 700 water main breaks per day

HDPE has several long-term benefits as well. First, HDPE doesn’t rust like its metal counterparts and it’s resistant to minerals, moisture, and abrasions. These factors are especially important when underground infrastructure is experiencing nearly 700 water main breaks per day. This makes the need to replace old technology with newer, more reliable technology, crucial.3

Food Packaging

The packaging industry in the United States is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5% over the forecast period 2020 to 2025, with the United States as of the fastest-growing packaging markets in North America.4

For fresh ingredients like cheeses, layers of HDPE film in multi-layer packaging enables consumers to examine the product for blemishes before buying. HDPE also provides consumers with sanitation benefits and helps extend the shelf life of goods.

HDPE resin is corrosion-resistant and absorbs little moisture, making it well-suited for storing beverages.5 HDPE is considered one of the easiest plastics to recycle and has the capability to be recycled up to ten times, providing sustainability and cost benefits to converters. 6The FDA has also sanctioned recycled HDPE for food contact on a case-by-case basis for over 20 years.

Medical Applications

Sanitation and hygiene have never been more important in healthcare. To keep areas clean, devices and areas are subject to harsh cleaning chemicals. HDPE is a great option for these products due to its high resistance to chemicals. HDPE can stand up to the rigorous sterilization processes found in the healthcare space and it doesn’t support organic growth.

Compared to alternatives, HDPE won’t degrade as much, making a more durable product that holds up against chemicals and cleaning. HDPE is also aquaphobic, so spilled liquids won’t be absorbed into PPE gloves or suits, preventing the contamination of a staff member’s skin.

Discover How Polyethylene in Medical Applications Help Enhance the Patient Experience

HDPE in the Beverage Industry

The global HDPE bottles market is projected to reach $224.97 billion by 2025, from $166.78 billion in 2019, at a CAGR of 6.49% from 2020-2025.7 The introduction of HDPE polymers to make dairy bottles has been a major contributor to expanding plastic bottling applications.8 HDPE can be a food-grade plastic, making it ideal for storing perishable dairy products.

Alongside blow-molded dairy bottles, HDPE is also one of the primary materials for injection-molded bottle caps and closures. In fact, the overall plastic caps & closures market was $42 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $57.03 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 5.18% between 2020 and 2025.9 As the demand for bottled beverages for consumer convenience and hygiene increase, these numbers may even exceed expectations.

As technology advances, brands are finding new ways of repurposing HDPE for more sustainable packaging.

In addition to being a lighter, more durable alternative to glass, many HDPE products are also recyclable.10 As technology advances, brands are finding new ways of repurposing HDPE for more sustainable packaging. For example, Coca Cola recently piloted a recycled HDPE plastic cap on DASANI water bottles in Q4 of 2020.11 Coca-Cola North America’s VP of Environment, Sustainability, and Safety is quoted in the official press release as saying, “As people spend more time at home, we are recognizing an opportunity to do even more to help ensure that people have a means to recycle at the curb.”

Prime Packaging for Home Care Products

HDPE makes an excellent plastic packaging for cosmetics due to the protection it provides against chemicals and outside contaminants. With the global home care market projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.98% from 2020-2025, the right packaging choices are crucial to success.

Explore The Role of Polyethylene Packaging in Consumer Health and Hygiene

HDPE is a durable, versatile material that accommodates a variety of container designs and maintains structural integrity through distribution. HDPE is also preferred for personal care products because it has high rigidity, long shelf life, and reliable barrier properties.12

Polymer Trends: How Industry Shifts Will Affect Polyethylene Production

Delve deeper into these industry changes with commentary from our Polymer Pros and Pioneers

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1https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/high-density-polyethylene-hdpe-market
2https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/197-billion-hdpe-pipes-market---growth-future-prospects--competitive-analysis-2016---2024---research-and-markets-300441114.html
3https://trenchlesstechnology.com/stating-their-case-pvc-vs-hdpe/#:~:text=When%20it%20comes%20to%20long,metal%2C%20concrete%20and%20other%20plastics.
4https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/07/28/2068758/0/en/Packaging-Industry-in-United-States-Growth-Trends-and-Forecasts-2020-2025.html
5https://www.custom-pak.com/what-plastics-are-approved-for-food-contact-applications/#:~:text=High%2DDensity%20Polyethylene%20(HDPE)&text=Virgin%20HDPE%20is%20a%20safe,well%2Dsuited%20for%20storing%20beverages.
6https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=255#:~:text=HDPE%20is%20non%2Dbiodegradable%20and,to%20manufacture%20'virgin'%20plastic.
7https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/hdpe-bottles-market-2020---impact-of-covid-19-on-industry-share-size-price-cagr-growth-rate-and-future-prospects-2020-08-10
8https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/plastic-bottles-market
9https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/11/11/2124489/0/en/Global-Plastic-Caps-and-Closures-Market-2020-to-2025-Increase-in-Demand-for-Bottled-Water-Drives-Growth.html
10https://www.recyclingcounts.com/2020/03/31/why-pet-and-hdpe-plastics/#:~:text=HDPE%20(high%2Ddensity%20polyethylene),laundry%20detergent%20and%20shampoo%20bottles.
11https://www.coca-colacompany.com/news/dasani-launches-recycled-bottle-caps
12https://www.beroeinc.com/article/pet-hdpe-cost-savings/