Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Plastics #2

High-density Polyethylene, or HDPE, is like a little brother to PETE. Better known as plastics #2, it is easily recyclable and can be remanufactured into a number of products. Uncolored HDPE has a milky, or translucent sheen, as evidenced in milk jugs, shopping bags, and cereal box liners. Colored, or pigmented HDPE is common as well, and tends to be a bit stiffer than its naturally hued counterpart. Colored HDPE usually packages cleaners, detergents, and beauty products.

HDPE is easy to form and easy to process. Not only does the chemical make up of high-density polyethylene make it unlikely to leach into food products or break down too much when heated, it is highly resistant to chemical reactions, which makes it ideal for packaging bleach, motor oil, household cleansers and industrial chemicals.

Because of its strength and stability on a molecular level, HDPE is one of the only plastics that can be recycled back into a plastic bottle or container. Other products commonly made from HDPE include: floor tiles, artificial lumber and fencing, drain pipes, dog houses and picnic tables. There's also a pretty good chance that your recycling bin is made out of #2 plastics! How many of your HDPE containers are making it into that bin?

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