Most commonly used plastics
Plastic is not a material itself but is made up of several different parts. These parts, or polymers as they are called, have different properties, and can make the plastic either soft or hard. Multiple different additives are also added to these polymers to create a product that is well adapted to its purpose.
The additives in the plastic production, can give the plastic a specific color as we as giving it antibacterial properties or that it is flameproof. The choices are many and vary entirely with what the plastic packaging is intended for.
Thermo plastic is a collective name for the plastics used in vacuum and thermoforming. The plastics in this group have the main property to become soft when heated, making it possible to model it according to desired shapes.
Since vacuum and thermoforming can create products for various areas of use, thermoplastics are used for different types of products. The products can vary from packaging to vehicle parts. Depending on the purpose of the plastic, different additives are added, such as. Bactericidal or dye.
This is one of the most used plastics in our households. Among other things, this plastic is mainly used in plastic film, carrier bags and some soft plastic packaging.
Polypropylene is a type of thermoplastic that is mainly used in vehicle manufacturing, but also within the food and medicine industry. Products from polypropene are considered to have a low environmental and health risk and are therefore often used for products such as ketchup bottles, straws, and pharmaceuticals.
Additionally, polypropene products can withstand high heat and works well for microwave safe containers.
Polystyrene is one of the most popular plastics used in vacuum forming as it is easy to shape and create durable products.
Polystyrene is most often used for the manufacture of signs and is a constituent of styrofoam. Some disposable food containers are also made of polystyrene but do unfortunately have greater health risks than polypropylene.
POLYVINYL CHLORIDE (PVC)
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride as it is called, is a type of plastic with several different uses, such as food packaging, toys and building materials. This is often the plastic discussed when talking about environmental and health risks, as they are very high in this type of plastic.
When manufacturing PVC, various additives are added, also called phthalates (plasticizers) and are the primary reason to why this plastic is not safe to use for food containers. These phthalates can upset the hormone balance and should therefore be used with great caution. It is also considered to be carcinogenic.
Since 2015, the EU has introduced a ban on these additives, but there are still old PVC products in circulation so one should be careful when reusing old plastic food packages.
POLYETYLENE TERPHALATE (PET, POLYESTER)
PET is probably one of the most well-known types of plastic and stands for polyethylene terephthalate. It is used for a variety of different products, but mainly packaging, bottles and synthetic fibers. So, in addition to your soft drink bottle, you can also find PET in your clothes.
Today, there are various subgroups of PET, of which R-PET is the one we mainly use at INP. We produce 98% PET, of which 70% is R-PET. R-PET stands for Recycled PET and means that previous PET packaging is ground down into small flakes, which can then be used in the production of new products.
In addition to R-PET, there are several other varieties:A-PET
This type of PET is basically the type used when talking about PET in general. It is mainly used in displays and the manufacture of food packaging as it has a very clear, transparent surface.G-PET
This type is also well intended for displays and is mainly used in plexiglass manufacturing. The difference between A- and G-PET is that G-PET has an addition of glycol, and that it is popular in 3D manufacturing.C-PET
Most types of PET products are very clear, but C-PET is slightly cloudier. The turbidity occurs because the plastic crystallizes to create a more durable material. Products made of C-PET are most often suitable for products that need to last even higher temperatures (e.g., in a microwave oven).
POLYLACTIC ACID (PLA)
PLA, which stands for polylactide, is a type of bioplastic. The plastic is made of sugar and has similar uses as PET where it can be shaped in a similar way, as well as being transparent too.
This type of plastic has very durable properties and is suitable for products that need to withstand high heat and impacts. Examples of this can be machine protections, vehicle parts and even baby bottles.
Polyamide, or nylon as it is often called, is a very durable fiber. It is very often used in clothes that should weigh a little and at the same time dry quickly. Polyamide is also used in kitchen utensils as it can withstand high temperatures.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, TEFLON)
Teflon is a very popular material and is currently used several kitchen utensils. Many products such as plates and frying pans have the popular non-stick surface meaning that food will not burn during frying or baking. Teflon is also very heat resistant and can withstand temperatures up to about 300°C.
There are very few recycled products on the market today that are used in direct contact with food, except for PET bottles as they are made entirely from recycled materials. However, PET bottles with a middle layer of recycled PET have been around for a long time. Recycled PET has been shown to meet the requirements of the EU for new materials.Source: The Swedish National Food Administration, www.slv.se