Polypropylene, often abbreviated PP, is a thermoplastic polymer that is originally opaque in color, though it is often dyed using colored pigments. This hard plastic material is the second most common plastic produced around the world due to its excellent chemical and heat resistance. Sometimes manufacturers will add mineral fillers to polypropylene to create a harder plastic, but this mineral-filled polypropylene loses some of its flexibility and comes in a cloudy white color.
Often abbreviated PE, polyethylene is a thermoplastic homo-polymer that has excellent flexibility and impact strength. It is the most produced plastic in the world. While this material has a low melting point, it makes up for this with its lightweight design as well as its crack- and crush-resistant construction.
More commonly known as PET or PETE, polyethylene terephthalate is a thermoplastic polymer resin that is most commonly used as synthetic fiber to create polyester. When made into a plastic it is either rigid or semi-rigid, and in this form it is most often clear or transparent in appearance, though it can be dyed various colors. It is very useful, as it is crack- and crush-resistant while remaining lightweight.
A simple, naturally occurring chemical called styrene is strung together to manufacture polystyrene (PS) plastic. This material provides better insulation than most plastics and usually comes in a clear color, making it ideal for packaging or storing food. It is very rigid and can be prone to cracking, but it is also lightweight and inexpensive, so your replacement costs will be low.
This material, often referred to as PC, is an engineered thermoplastic that is used when durability is your main concern. Clear in its original form, though it is often colored or darkened to be translucent, polycarbonate can be used in applications where glass-like transparency is needed. It is extremely impact- and heat-resistant as well, though it can be scratched or “crazed” fairly easily. Unique to polycarbonate, this plastic also helps protect against UV rays.
EPS, or expanded polystyrene, is formed by taking beads of polystyrene, expanding them with steam, compressing them into a mold, and then steaming it again to form the final foam product. This foam material comes in a variety of densities to best suit its purpose.
PVC plastic’s technical name is polyvinyl chloride, and this thermoplastic polymer is made either rigid or flexible during production. The rigid form of PVC is used in packaging applications, but it should not be used to package food. Resistant to chemicals, water, and impact, this rigid form is a lightweight but durable material. The flexible form is used to make signage or replace rubber to protect or cover an item. Both types of PVC are often used in building or electrical applications.
SAN plastic is actually named styrene acrylonitrile resin and is made of styrene and acrylonitrile, making it an excellent replacement for polystyrene. It boasts excellent thermal and chemical resistance, but is more prone to cracking if dropped. SAN is scratch-resistant as well. Due to its transparency, it is great for use in applications where you need to easily see through the plastic.
Tritan is a tough, break-resistant plastic material that was made to fill the need for BPA-free plastic in the market. It is resistant to impact, cracking, shattering, and bending so you can rely on it to last in your establishment. It is an excellent, lightweight alternative to glassware due to its transparency, but it also has a nice hand-feel to promote a more high-end atmosphere that other plastics can’t offer. While the safety of Tritan was once contested by researcher George Bittner, more recent, intensive studies from Eastman, the developer of Tritan, have proven that Tritan is EA/AA-free and completely safe.
Abbreviated as PLA, polylactic acid plastic is a thermoplastic polyester material that is made from renewable resources such as corn starch. The main selling feature of PLA is that it is eco-friendly as it is made from renewable resources. However, the material cannot yet be produced at a large industrial scale, has a low melting point, and is fairly permeable so it cannot easily be used to store food long-term. When crystallized during manufacturing, this material can handle slightly higher temperatures.
Cloth, storage containers, shoes, luggage, furniture
Crates, fencing, bottles, pens
Flooring, cables, mats, bubble wrap
Garbage cans, floor tile, paneling
Brooms, bins, pallets, trays
Insulation, egg cartons, take-out containers
If you’re running a foodservice establishment, whether that be a bar, restaurant, or food truck, you may wonder why you would want to use plastic at all. Ultimately, there are many advantages and disadvantages to choosing plastic over typical glassware or ceramics, so you have to decide which option is best for your business.
What Is Tamper Evident Packaging?
Tamper evident food packaging is designed with special closures that make it apparent if the container has been opened, unsealed, or broken. If you're selling packaged items, broken closures alert you to potential product tampering so you can dispose of the item. Most importantly, it assures the customer that the items they purchase are fresh, safe, and haven't been handled by anyone after being packaged. Tamper evident packaging is so common in the food and beverage industry that you probably take it for granted. You'll find that most bottled beverages feature a twist cap, and you intuitively know that if the cap has been twisted off, the beverage has been opened. But what about tamper proof packaging for takeout food orders? Tamper eviden
Plastic and Styrofoam Bans
Bans on the use of styrofoam containers, plastic bags, and plastic straws in foodservice are becoming more common in states across the country. Restaurants rely heavily on disposable takeout supplies for carryout and delivery services , so it's important to learn about the current and impending bans that may affect your business. Keep reading to find out if your state has plastic and styrofoam bans in place, and check out our recommendations for environmentally friendly packaging alternatives. This page has been updated as of January 1, 2023, but it may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. Because these laws change regularly, readers of this site should be familiar with applicable state laws and restrictions. Shop All Eco-F
What Do Plastic Recycling Symbols Mean?
Many foodservice businesses are interested in recycling the plastic bags and containers they use to store, prepare, and keep their food fresh. However, it can be difficult to determine what can be recycled and how to properly recycle these materials. Check out the infographic below to learn how plastic recycling numbers and symbols can help you determine how to recycle your waste, potential risks of each plastic, and what these products are recycled into. What Are the Seven Main Plastics? The seven main types of plastic resins are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS). The seventh category is designated as "othe