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Your Position: Home - Environment - The role of polyethylene packaging in consumer safety and hygiene

The role of polyethylene packaging in consumer safety and hygiene

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.

Let’s dive into some of the ways high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) help keep consumers safe.

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

Related reading: What converters should know about Shell Polymers’ newly built polyethylene plant

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.

Meet some of our team here.

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.


If you need to manufacture plastic tubes, polyethylene is a good option. This polymer comes in a range of compounds, all of which share some common advantages on top of their individual benefits.

What are the benefits of using polyethylene to manufacture your tubes?

Flexible Applications

Polyethylene is a versatile material. You can use it to make tubes for many different applications and purposes.

For example, polyethylene can safely carry many liquids, gases, acids, alcohols, and chemicals. It creates robust protective tubing sleeves and has good electrical insulating properties.

This polymer is also a non-toxic material that has FDA approval for use on food and beverage products. It doesn't add taste or odor to anything it contains, carries, or touches. It doesn't absorb substances into its structure.

You can also color polyethylene tubes to your specification. For example, you can use this material to create multi-colored drinking straws. Or you can color-code tubes in an industrial environment to make it immediately obvious which liquid or material a tube holds or carries.

Lightweight Flexibility

Tubes made from other materials, such as metals or more rigid plastics, are often heavy. If weight is an issue for you, then using polyethylene tubing is a good alternative. Even if you use a heavy-duty compound like high-density polyethylene, your tubes will still be relatively lightweight.

Polyethylene tubes also have some built-in flexibility that you might find useful. These tubes can bend and flex to a certain degree. This makes them easier to use in tight spaces and awkward angles. If the tube needs to move during installation or when it is used in a product, then it can do this. If you're buying long lengths of tubing, you can store them easily on reels or spools.

Good Tensile Strength

The fact that polyethylene tubes are lightweight and flexible doesn't mean that they lack strength. Even low-density polymers are impressively robust. If you up the ante and choose a high-density option, then you get even stronger tubes.

Polyethylene has good tensile strength. Tubes made from these compounds can withstand cracking, impacts, stress, and damage without breaking. They also won't suffer from abrasion wear or fatigue as much as some other materials.

A lot of this is down to polyethylene's high levels of ductility. If a material is ductile, then it has the capacity to stretch or flex when it is put under pressure. Rather than simply breaking when the pressure is too great, a ductile material can take more strain. It will break or fracture much less easily than a more inflexible material.

Polyethylene tubes also have good resistance against corrosion. Like any other plastic, they can't rust. They also won't be affected by corrosive materials such as acids in soil. They won't rot or break down if they come into contact with mold, bacteria, or other growths. 

This extra resistance adds to the strength of the polymer. So tubes made from this material typically last longer and perform better.

Keep in mind that polyethylene compounds all do slightly different jobs; they have different strengths and weaknesses. This can affect the type of polyethylene you need to make your tubes.

For example, the rigidity of your tubes will vary depending on the compound you choose. If you want more rigid tubes, then you need a high-density polyethylene. Or if you want more flexibility, a low-density material is likely to be a better option.

If you think that polyethylene looks like being a good option for your tubing order, then contact Seiler Plastics. We can discuss your needs and help you choose the material that delivers the right solution. We can also help you design and produce custom tubing solutions if you need them.

The role of polyethylene packaging in consumer safety and hygiene






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