The role of polyethylene packaging in consumer safety and hygiene
Polyethylene packaging protects its contents and eliminates potentially harmful contaminants. This provides crucial protection for consumers in multiple ways. PE helps to promote safety and hygiene in our economy and lives.
Polyethylene promotes cleanliness and safety
Polyethylene (PE) is used in many industries, including food and beverage, personal wellness, packaged goods, health care, and beyond.
Product developers choose PE because it is versatile and durable, resistant to impact and chemicals, features low moisture absorption, and doesn’t retain bacteria.
Polyethylene packaging keeps foods fresher, longer
Think of all the raw packaged meats behind and around the butcher’s counter at the grocery store. Once packed, those products will usually last a few days. They must be sold and cooked, or they will spoil and get thrown out.
Things would be worse without the HDPE and LLDPE packaging that encases many of those meats. Polyethylene films can more than double the amount of time some meat can stay fresh.1
The preservation power of PE packaging ensures fewer resources are wasted. That’s a financial benefit for stores and brands and a safety benefit for customers. It’s also an environmental plus. Besides helping reduce the waste of resources, less meat in a landfill means fewer methane emissions from meat decomposing there.
PE’s food-preserving qualities don’t stop at meat. They extend to HDPE milk jugs and freezer bags for frozen foods. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration designates polymers like HDPE as food-safe plastics. HDPE is nonporous and easy to clean, it resists mildew and mold, and it's dishwasher safe thanks to its high heat resistance.
Related reading: Food & Beverage trends report or one pager
The clear choice for personal care & beauty
Packaging for personal care and beauty products needs to be impact-resistant, portable, and preserve the chemicals and cosmetics within. That’s why polyethylene has been a consistent choice for brands in these market sectors.
PE packaging helps consumers to easily store and save products that can be difficult to contain and consume, like lotions and liquids. Consumers strongly prefer functional packaging that optimizes product use.2
PE containers offer a solution that’s reusable, resealable, and easily dispenses products compared to other forms of packaging. PE has strong barrier properties, is resistant to solvents and other chemicals, and is both durable and malleable.
As such, product developers use PE to create bottles for detergents, shampoos, lotions, shower gels, nail polish removers, pouches, and over-the-counter medicines, as well as cosmetics containers and other products. PE applications help keep contents safe on their trip from factories to stores, and ultimately, to consumers’ cabinets.
PE’s advantages over alternatives
While glass and other packaging materials were once dominant in food, personal care, cosmetics, and other sectors, polyethylene has proven itself an effective successor in many cases.
One reason is, because it would take far more of those alternative materials by weight to perform the same function as plastic. For example, a study by Trucost found that substituting alternate materials for plastic in packaging would increase environmental costs from $139 billion to $533 billion – nearly tripling those costs.3
As a heavy material, glass also costs more to transport and requires more energy to recycle.4
Meet Shell Polymers’ blow molding experts
Steeped in polyethylene applications for food & beverage, personal care products, household goods, and beyond, Shell Polymers’ polymer and blow molding experts help converters achieve the results they desire.
We’re committed to building collaborative, supportive relationships with blow molders, injection molders, film extruders, rotomolders, and other converters. We describe this listening-based approach as a (Real)ationship.
Reach out to us to learn more about how Shell Polymers can help your business succeed.