Plastics Part 3: Hope in HDPE

Guest blogger, Jessica Connolly of Recology San Mateo County explores plastics and her relationship to them in this series.


Source: BBC

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is the most widely used plastic of all, with annual production exceeding 80 million metric tons (or 160 billion metric pounds)! It is used in products and packaging such as milk jugs, detergent bottles, margarine tubs, large storage containers, bottle caps and water pipes.

HDPE is more resistant to solvents and chemicals than other plastics, so it is the preferred plastic for vehicle fuel tanks, plastic lumber, storage sheds, and plastic bags. HDPE is also used for cell liners in modern sanitary landfills. Large sheets of HDPE are formed and welded together to make a large chemical-resistant barrier, with the intention of preventing the pollution of soil and groundwater from the liquid contents (leachate) of municipal solid waste.

HDPE is more durable than other plastics and is also less hazardous. HDPE has started to be used in place of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic in construction and piping because of its flexibility; HDPE is more malleable and can bend whereas PVC will snap and shatter under stress.

Both PET and HDPE are the most commonly recycled plastics. Most municipalities only accept PET and HDPE because they are the most widely used plastics, and they tend to have better markets than plastics #3-7. 

HDPE is popular choice for durable products like plastic lumber. Because its properties, it can be made into decks, benches, fences, and banisters as a replacement for wood.  These innovative products are attempts to develop useful products from HDPE that would otherwise be discarded. It is one attempt to close the loop and create additional opportunities to capture more recycled HDPE.

One Response to “Plastics Part 3: Hope in HDPE

  • Awesome post! HDPE always uses quality plastics for the products, which are very effective for us. loved it.

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