Why food safe HDPE plastic replaced glass as the go-to milk container.
Many of you, should you be older than 60, may remember the “Milk Man”. This delivery service from decades ago, was a most common way of transporting milk to the consumer. Back then, suppliers used glass bottles, delivered by this milk man, right to your front door.
HDPE is Food Safe
When looking at alternatives, the milk processing industry found a use and benefit from replacing the glass with a plastic called High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). But what is HDPE, and what are the benefits of using it?
Glass is heavy, HDPE plastic is light
One of the characteristics of this thermoplastic is the weight of the material. The reason this is so beneficial brings us back to the milk jug. Old style glass milk containers could hold 32 oz., with the empty glass weighing 1.25 lbs. An empty gallon water or milk jug (128 oz.) weighs in at only 0.25 lbs, and holds 4 times more volume. When full, the milk jug can hold more volume than the glass bottle without compromising the strength, especially when being transported. This lowers the overall transport time and significantly reduces the cost of shipping.
This drop in weight and large increase in capacity is why the industry made the switch. The attribute of high durability in plastic materials like HDPE is known as the “strength to weight ratio”. As already mentioned, this was a huge benefit from switching to HDPE containers – the impact it has on transport costs. The high impact resistance of the material allows for easy transport. The HDPE jugs can withstand the jarring and bumping that is a natural part of mass transit, with almost zero wear or breakage to the product. Compared to the glass bottle, too hard of a turn or a pothole in the road could lead to the disheartening sound of shattering glass… not an ideal result for the distributing company. The HDPE impact resistance still holds true through out the supply chain, and even when the containers enter a store or home. If a HDPE milk jug should fall, the plastic container may spill, but it won’t cause the harm or damage that glass would. Broken glass poses a hazard and a risk, whereas plastic in this case can be easily cleaned, recycled, and used again.
When discussing this topic, the argument of recycling and sustainability sets its sights on plastics. In reality, the carbon footprint of plastics is much smaller than that of glass. The amount of heat necessary to heat up plastic for recycling is dramatically lower than that of glass, making it more sustainable in the long run. Yes, both are 100% recyclable, but the amount of fuel necessary plays a big factor. The temperature needed for melting and processing HDPE is between 248 and 356°F depending on grade. Whereas glass requires a minimum temperature of 2,600°F, according to SeattlePI. As you can see, these temperatures are very different, and shows why the life cycle of plastic is more eco-friendly and a better option to preserve our environment.
Immensely versatile HDPE applications
HDPE has many more uses, like in structural tanks, FDA approved cutting boards and industrial piping systems. This material outweighs most alternatives in benefits due to it’s cost and performance, and is produced in sheet and rod by many major manufacturers in the USA. HDPE plastics are FDA and NSF approved for food applications, making HDPE a food safe product for most food processing and packing applications. For more details on HDPE and it’s benefits see Industrial Plastic Supply or call 866-832-9315
What other applications could benefit from newer and improved materials to make our world safer, cleaner and more efficient?
Yes, UV Resistant Recycled Plastic Lumber lasts and lasts
What happens to your ‘blue recycled trash’ materials? A common question regarding recycling is, ‘Does It Work’?
The answer is ‘YES’ it certainly works.
One of the most recycled plastic materials is HDPE. This is the material that laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, opaque vitamin bottles and many more common household containers are made from. The HDPE is a FDA and NSF approved resin, and is the go to material for cutting boards, margarine containers, food storage containers, and many of your milky colored drinking cups.
So, what happens to these items after you put them into your recycle bin?
Your local recycling center sorts through your clean recyclables and segregates the materials by the type of plastic. HDPE has the recycle code of #2, and this can be found on the bottom of many of your plastic items. The other plastic items are sorted out based on the recycle number and type of material. This allows for better and more efficient reprocessing of these resins into new and re-purposed items.
The reprocessing of plastic scrap or discarded post consumer products generated a large quantity of plastic material. The HDPE recycling market is a fast growing area of the recycled plastic sector. The other common plastic that is recycled is PET, which has the code of #1, and this is the very clear water bottles and soda bottle material.
Once the discarded containers and other HDPE scraps are collected, they are sent to a recycle plant. This is where the containers are cleaned, sent to the grinder, and converted into small pieces that can be used in the manufacture of new products. This reprocessing of post consumer goods into a usable plastic lumber is the first step in the recycling process. Much later, after the very long life of the HDPE recycled lumber is over, it can be again reprocessed into another recycled HDPE product, maybe even another piece of HDPE plastic lumber. The cycle of using an already produced plastic product, and then reusing, recycling or re-purposing this material is as environmentally responsible as any consumer can be. This ‘closed loop’ recycling eliminates the use of other natural resources, and cuts the impact on our planet.
In a recent press release, HDPE recycled content from milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, shampoo bottles and other post consumer content are gathered. Then it is ground to usable sizes, and then reprocessed into Recycled HDPE Plastic Lumber. The only additive are the colorant and a UV stabilizer or UV resistant additive. The material is sent threw an extruded or molding process, and the result is a plastic boards that look like real wood, but will out last any wood product by 5 – 10 times, and not require the maintenance that we know is required with wood lumber. The premium recycled HDPE plastic lumber, made by Bedford Technologies, has a 50 year warranty.
That’s a long time, our UV Resistant Recycled Plastic Lumber will last.
Plastic lumber does not rot, splinter, require paint or sealants annually, nor any other regular maintenance. Perhaps a semi-regular washing down is all that would be needed to have this material continue to look like new.
What are popular items that are made from this recycled HDPE plastic lumber? The limit to uses is only limited by your imagination. Some of the most common HDPE plastic lumber products are: outdoor decks, outdoor furniture, docks for lakes and marinas, trellises, walkways, playground components, parking bumpers, sign posts and many more. All of these items outperform the lumber products previous used for these applications.
Call us for more information on the available sizes and colors of recycles HDPE plastic lumber, 866-832-9315.
More recycled plastic sheet is needed to fill demand
The plastic industry struggles with bad press over greater amounts of plastic in the land fills and oceans. This is understandable when the quantity of plastic products has skyrocketed. One of the biggest offender is the common shopping grocery sack. Most plastic materials are recyclable, and the demand has grown much faster than the supply, as industrial manufacturers are searching for recycled materials to use in their products.
WASHINGTON (May 22, 10:35 a.m. ET) — With demand for recycled resins continuing to outstrip supply, the voices are getting louder — and more organized — for creating some sort of extended producer responsibility program to increase the recycling of packaging materials, plastics and otherwise.
In the past two months, an alliance of more than 30 public interest groups and other supporting organizations formed the Cradle² coalition to push for public policy changes that would make manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling the products and packaging they make.
“The broad implementation of EPR is still a long way off,” said Scott Mouw, recycling director for the state of North Carolina. “But these new advocacy groups for EPR are all reacting to the same thing. …(read more here)
The entire plastic supply chain has been affected. We receive calls regularly for our plastic materials, but clients want to know if they can get a recycled plastic sheet version. Most plastics we carry can be recycled, but most don’t make it back into sheets or rods due to FDA and NSF requirements. The most popular plastic we carry that are available as a recycled product are Reprocessed UHMW Sheets and Rods and Repro HDPE. The HDPE is available as post consumer content from milk jugs and laundry soap containers. PTFE sheet is also available as a reprocessed product for applications where the high purity is not critical, just the heat or wear resistance would remain.
Contact us for more information on the recycled plastic materials you may need.
Over the last 50 years or so since plastic became more and more prevalent, over one billion tons of it has been disposed of and that number only continues to grow. Plastic, because of its molecular structure does take along time to decompose and cannot be burned due to it releasing harmful toxins and pollutants into the air. However since the mid 1990’s, plastic recycling has become more advanced and a greater awareness has been established. Since this time though, new technologies have been implemented making it easier to recycle and making people more conscious to do so. Curbside containers and designated recycling stations have vastly improved the way we dispose of these materials. These programs helped pave the way for a new era where plastics are less likely to be littered on the side of the road and to make it easier to be reused over and over again saving money, energy and helping the environment.
Some of the main plastics which can be recyclable are:
Polyester or PET carries the number 1 symbol. This plastic is primarily used for soft drink bottles. It is the easiest to recycle plastic and can be reground and reused time and time again.
The plastic with the number 2 symbol on it is HDPE which is a plastic primarily used for grocery bags, milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.
PVC has the number 3 symbol and is used for pipes, fences and non-food containers.
LDPE is number 4 and is used for tubing, caps, rings and shrink wrap (coffee can lids).
Polypropylene has the number 5 symbol and its uses are for automotive parts, food containers and dishware.
Polystyrene is number 6 and is used for food containers and cups (including Styrofoam).
7 is other material such as Acrylic, fiberglass and Polycarbonate. These plastics are used for lenses, glasses and shields.
ABS is the number 9 symbol and is used in automotive, model building and molded parts.
Join the grass roots groups to recycle
Many schools and organizations work to collect and recycle materials, including plastics and aluminum cans. The biggest problem with plastic recycling is that it needs to be so meticulously carried out and requires painstaking time to sort properly and to go through the plastics. This is why the resin identification coding system was implemented in 1988 to help better identify plastics. The number in the middle has no real significance and is just there to help name the plastic the item is made from. This system has greatly improved the way plastics are handled and recycled leading to greater efficiency and better consistency when sorting through plastic resins.
There are, however, some plastics that cannot be recycled. These plastics are called thermosets, which are plastics that cannot return to their original form. The best example of this type of plastic is Phenolic which was the first commercially available plastic back in 1907, and was originally called Bakelite. It is primarily used for electrical and mechanical purposes. Unlike thermoplastics which can be formed and returned to their original shape, thermosets cannot due to their chemical makeup and they frequently have additives or fillers. Thermosets form above the melting temperature so when they are heated, the decomposition temperature is reached before the melt point.
Many of these thermoset materials replace other, much more expensive materials, and generally out last the former material by as much as 20 times. In practice, these material reduce the usage of natural resources and the ‘carbon footprint’ used to produce the items. One such material is the Nylon bushings used in large ships. The Nylon replaces a large Bronze bushing that used to be replaced once a year, and required the ship be put into dry dock to remove and replace the bushing. The new Nylon bushings out perform the bronze, and will last over 12 times longer. Dramatic savings in materials, casting new bronze bushing and the loss of sailing time of these ships.
Thanks to recycling improvements in the last 25 years, recycling has become much more efficient. Because of these programs better care has been taken to insure that plastic is not littered or discarded lightly, and that the programs created are easily accessible so people can take better care of their trash and better care of the earth. Plastics manufacturer commonly work to reuse and recycle materials during production. Many materials are available as ‘reprocessed’ or ‘commercial grade’ materials, meaning they contain a percentage of material that has been processed before. The first time a plastic resin is sent through the manufacturing process, that resin is referred to as ‘virgin resin’. Any further processing, the material must be referred to as reprocessed.
Want more information on the recycling of plastics, click here for recycling information. You may also contact us if you have a specific material question at: 866-832-9315, we are happy to assist.