Multilayer film packaging using lldpe plastic

Polyethylene in Everyday Life: Common LLDPE Plastic Products

Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) is popular for its strength, impact resistance, and puncture resistance.

By Shell Polymers on Feb 19, 2021

LLDPE’s toughness allows it to make thinner films without compromising the strength of the material. The United States Plastics Corp. differentiates LLDPE from its similarly named polyethylene rival, Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), saying, “LLDPE has a significant number of short branches. Because it has shorter and more branches, its chains are able to slide against each other upon elongation without becoming entangled like LDPE, which has long branching chains that would get caught on each other. This gives LLDPE higher tensile strength and higher impact and puncture resistance than the LDPE.”1

According to the Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS), “Around 80% of LLDPE goes into film applications such as food and non-food packaging, shrink/stretch film, and non-packaging uses. The trend in food packaging films is towards high-performance film structures that are less permeable to increase shelf life and enhance flavors.”2

Learn more about What’s in Store for PE Film

Even though LLDPE shows up in many everyday items, people are rarely educated on what those products are, and most importantly, why LLDPE was chosen for the job. Here’s a brief walkthrough of some everyday LLDPE products that consumers engage with.

Five Areas to Find Everyday LLDPE Plastic Products

1. Inside Cabinets

You know the grocery bag full of other grocery bags most people have shoved in the back of their cabinet? While those can be made of a variety of polyethylene types, LLDPE is a solid choice due to its strength and durability. For similar reasons to grocery bags, trash bags are often made with a layer, or layers, of LLDPE film to give it the stiffness and puncture-resistant qualities needed to successfully contain and transport waste.

LLDPE is a solid choice for grocery bags, trash bags, and shrink wrap film due to its strength and durability.

If you’re stashing multi-pack beverages for later, the shrink wrap that goes over plastic bottles is often made of LLDPE. Additionally, the plastic can rings that hold multi-pack canned beverages together are also made with LLDPE because of its durability.

2. Inside the Fridge and Freezer

From salad bags to cheese wraps, to protective film around meat and bread, LLDPE makes appearances in a variety of multi-layer film applications that are probably in your fridge right now. In addition to flexible applications like protective food wraps, LLDPE also shows up in a few rigid food applications. Dairy products such as half & half or heavy whipping cream that still come in paper cartons often have a layer of LLDPE inside to waterproof the container.3

A shelf of bulk cheese using lldpe plastic film wrap
LLDPE makes appearances in a variety of multi-layer film applications that are probably in your fridge right now, such as bulk cheese wrap.

Microwavable frozen steam bags offer not only quick and easy meal preparation, but also healthy choices for families everywhere. LLDPE is a major part of the composition of these innovative bags.

3. Inside the Toy Bin

Because of its cost-effectiveness, molding capabilities, and its ability to produce complex shapes, LLDPE has been a popular material in the toy industry for many years. Leveraging LLDPE for toys has a variety of benefits, such as its resistance to breaking or staining, and uncanny ability to mimic the appearance of other materials.4 Toys such as plastic cars and toy benches are often made of roto-molded LLDPE.

4. In the Garden

Heavy-duty sacks that hold common gardening products such as soil are often made of multi-layer film packaging that includes LLDPE. Plastic gardening tools and plastic planters made of LLDPE are preferred over other materials because LLDPE is known for not transmitting chemicals into the soil or food.5

5. On the Playground

Polyethylene is a durable, safe, and adaptable material that can radically reduce the cost of playground equipment. It comes in an assortment of colors, sizes, and shapes, and production methods lend themselves to creativity. Manufacturers can design plastic jungle gyms, playground slides, tube-tunnels, ladders, and monkey bars with converting processes such as rotomolding and blow molding.6

Child playing on an LLDPE plastic playground set
“Manufacturers can design plastic jungle gyms, playground slides, tube-tunnels, ladders, and monkey bars with converting processes such as rotomolding and blow molding.”

With rotomolding capabilities, LLDPE can take on a variety of complex shapes to make imaginative playgrounds. Similar to garden materials, LLDPE can stay safe even after constant exposure to heat. It’s also low maintenance, so it’s a long-lasting structure that’s easy to upkeep. Because it’s resistant to chemicals, polyethylene playgrounds can be easily sanitized without corroding them. With LLDPE equipment, parents can have peace of mind that their kids won’t be exposed to splinters, rusty pieces of metal, or toxins.7

LLDPE’s durability, tensile strength, and wide availability make it a great choice for plastics converters, brand owners, and consumers alike. As the focus on hygiene and product longevity grows, LLDPE’s popularity will grow with it because it makes a reliable material for a variety of everyday household applications.

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¹ https://www.usplastic.com/knowledgebase/article.aspx?contentkey=508
² https://www.icis.com/explore/resources/news/2007/11/06/9076161/polyethylene-linear-low-density-lldpe-uses-and-market-data/#:~:text=LLDPE%20is%20being%20used%20in,consumer%2C%20industrial%20and%20agricultural%20uses.
³ http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Milk-Carton.html#:~:text=Milk%20containers%20are%20made%20from,location%20of%20the%20paper%20mill.
⁴ https://www.terracastproducts.com/incredible-facts-linear-low-density-polyethylene/#:~:text=Linear%20Low%20Density%20Polyethylene%20(LLDPE,buckets%20and%20cable%20wire%20covering.
⁵ https://www.epicgardening.com/which-plastics-are-safe-for-gardening/
⁶ https://www.playgroundequipment.com/plastics-breaking-down-the-costs-of-playgrounds/
⁷ https://www.tfharper.com/different-playground-materials-benefits/