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Different Types of Plastics and Their Uses

different types of plastic

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In recent years, plastic has gotten a lot of negative press. News stories have called out plastics for clogging landfills, releasing dangerous chemicals, hurting animals, and more. Yet all plastics are not created equal – and it is still a necessary material in most homes and businesses (including restaurants).There are 7 different types of plastics, each of which has unique characteristics. These plastics can be found throughout restaurants in piping, appliances, utensils, containers, packaging, and more. As a restaurant owner, you shouldn’t focus on eliminating plastics from your establishment – but on using the right type of plastics that are both safe and recyclable.

Budget Branders offers a range of products for the food service industry, including both eco-friendly plastic products and plastic alternatives like custom biodegradable cups, custom plastic cups, custom coffee sleeves, custom paper bags, and custom paper bowls. Our goal is to provide you with safe, high-quality products that can be customized with your business name, logo, and/or slogan. Reach out today to talk to a member of our branding team about which products might be right for your restaurant.

Different Types of Plastics

For most people, plastic is a part of everyday life. Plastics are used throughout homes, vehicles, and businesses. Yet most of us don’t put much thought into what exactly plastic is.Plastics are synthetic or naturally-occurring materials that are primarily made out of polymers. A polymer is a substance that is made out of many repeating units. Because of the unique properties of polymers, plastics can be shaped when soft and then will harden into a shape. 

According to the Society of Plastics Industry, there are 7 different types of plastics. You can tell which type of plastic is used by the number on the bottom of the item. Each of these plastics has different qualities and can be put to use in restaurants in different ways.

pet plastic

1) PET

Polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, is one of the most common types of plastics available. It is predominantly used for food and drink packaging because of its ability to prevent oxygen from getting into the container and spoiling the product. PET is considered eco-friendly, as it is the most widely-accepted type of plastic for recycling.PET is used for almost all single-serving and larger bottles of water and soda in the United States. PET is also frequently used for containers for packaged salad dressings, cooking oils, peanut butter, hand soaps, take-out, and cleaning products. PET plastic is also commonly used for custom plastic cups and custom stadium cups.

hdpe plastic

2) HDPE

High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, is another popular type of plastic. Its linear structure makes it both strong and dense, as well as moisture-resistant. HDPE is cost-effective, heat-resistant, and dishwasher safe.In restaurants, HDPE plastics are often used for food containers because they won’t leach into the contents. You can also find HDPE in chemical containers, and in piping systems. Like PET plastics, HDPE is recyclable. In fact, it is considered one of the easiest plastics to recycle.

pvc plastic

3) PVC

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is familiar to most people as a relatively inexpensive plastic that is used for building and construction. In its rigid form, PVC is great for these applications. However, a more flexible PVC can also be used to make things like blood storage bags, rafts, and tensile roofs.In restaurants, you will find PVC in plumbing, cable and wire insulation, and flooring. A flexible form of PVC is also used for a restaurant mainstay: cling wrap. However, PVC plastics are less recyclable than other plastics.

ldpe plastic

4) LDPE

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is essentially the opposite of HDPE: it has low-density molecules that offer a thinner and more flexible design. It has an incredibly simple structure, which makes the production of LDPE plastics cheap and easy. However, it is not typically accepted for curbside recycling. In a restaurant, you will typically find LDPE in plastic bags, six-pack rings, certain containers, dispensing bottles, and plastic wraps. If you want to avoid the use of LDPE plastics in your business – or if your community has a plastic bag ban – then you may choose custom paper bags for take-out and food delivery.

Custom Stadium Cups

 

5) PP

Polypropylene (PP) plastics are one of the most widely-produced plastics in the U.S. It is both hard and sturdy and can withstand high temperatures. It is also resistant to fatigue, so it is often used for hinges (such as the hinge on the cap of a ketchup bottle).PP plastics can be found throughout restaurants, from tupperware and other food storage containers to yogurt containers, hot beverage cups, and lids. Because it has a high melting point, it is often found in kitchen appliances and utensils. This type of plastic is recyclable, but because it is sturdy, it can often be used repeatedly for years. 

ps plastic

6) PS

Polystyrene, or PS, is an inexpensive plastic that can be manufactured as a solid or foam. It is easy to create, which makes it very popular.  It is often referred to by its brand name, Styrofoam.In restaurants, PS can be found in egg cartons, take-out containers, and disposable dinnerware. However, it can leach harmful chemicals when heated up and it isn’t biodegradable. It also isn’t accepted for curbside recycling, making it an unpopular choice for most restaurants.

pc plastic

7) Other Plastics

The final group of plastics includes anything that doesn’t fall into one of the above categories. The best-known “other plastic” is polycarbonates, or PC, which are used to build strong products like eye protection goggles. In restaurants, it may be found in various bottles and food containers.This group of plastics has come under fire recently because it releases bisphenol A (BPA) when heated. BPA also does not decompose, which means that it may contaminate soil and groundwater. Plastic number 7 is almost never recycled.

Should Plastics Be Used in Restaurants?

There is a lot of controversy around the use of plastics, particularly when it comes to single-use plastics. Many consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of plastics. In addition, there are significant concerns about the potential for harmful chemicals to leach into food and beverages with some types of plastics.As an initial matter, it is important to note that it is virtually impossible to eliminate all plastics from any restaurant. Plastics can be found throughout any given restaurant, from piping and cable insulation to flooring to appliance parts to utensils to food packaging. It is also often the best material to use for food storage.

Plastics are typically less expensive than many other materials, such as glass. In an industry that often has small profit margins, the expense of items like storage containers is a huge factor. Plastic containers also weigh less and are sturdier than other types of materials, which makes them the best choice for many applications.

If you are worried about using plastics in your restaurant, the key is to make smart choices whenever possible. Pick recyclable materials whenever possible – like plastic deli containers made out of PET – over non-recyclable materials. You should also avoid any plastics – like PC and PS – that have the potential to leach harmful chemicals.

Ultimately, plastics aren’t bad, but some types of plastic are better than others. As a restauranteur, you can aim to reduce the use of more problematic types of plastic as much as possible in your restaurant. You can also encourage customers to recycle, and focus on products that are safe for your customers and the environment.

How Budget Branders Can Help

As a restaurant owner, it can be hard to keep up with the latest news, trends, and science. With the possible dangers of plastics at the top of many consumers’ minds, it is important to understand the different types of plastics, how they can be used, and whether they are safe and environmentally friendly.Budget Branders understands the concerns of business owners and customers alike. We understand that sometimes plastic disposable products are necessary, which is why we utilize better options like PET that are safe and recyclable. We also offer a range of products that are made out of other materials, such as paper (custom paper cups and custom paper napkins) and foil (custom foil sandwich bags). In this way, we ensure that businesses can get the customized products that they need – without compromising their budget or their values.

If you’d like to learn more about our product line or would like a quote on one or more of our products, contact us today by pressing the live chat button, or sending us a message online.

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