The List of 7 Commercial Plastics

Learn More about the Most Common Plastics Used in Everyday Items

Ever wonder what type of plastic everyday items are made of? Just flip it upside down: at the bottom of all plastic products are a small rectangle with a number inside of it and a series of letters underneath. Those numbers and letters tell you what kind of plastic your item is made out of – there are 7 in total, and Retlaw is here to tell you what the different numbers are and what they mean for your particular plastic product.

List of 7 Commercial Plastics

1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

This is the first type of commercially-distributed plastic, labeled with a 1 and PETE. This type of plastic is considered food- and drink-safe due to its ability to prevent oxygen from penetrating and spoiling the product inside. PETE is a highly recyclable resin, as well as an inexpensive, lightweight, shatter-resistant material.

Items commonly made with PETE include:

  • Soft drink bottles
  • Juice bottles
  • Water bottles
  • Shampoo/conditioner bottles
  • Liquid hand soap bottles
  • Carry-home food containers

2 – High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

This is the second type of commercially-distributed plastic, labeled with a 2 and HDPE. HDPE is one of the most popular materials used in thermoplastic manufacturing, and the professionals at Retlaw Industries manufacture high-quality roller chain sprockets, rebar chairs, idler pulleys and pulley adapters with HDPE composite plastic.

HDPE is considered to be eco-friendly since it’s BPA-free, and manufacturing this type of plastic requires only a fraction of the energy required to produce steel from iron ore. HDPE is also very resistant to salt spray, oil, moisture, fading, insects, graffiti, splinting, warping and other hazards of environmental exposure. 

Some common household products often made with HDPE include:

  • Toys
  • Food storage containers
  • Waste & recycling receptacles
  • Outdoor signage
  • Reusable water bottles

3 – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

This is the third type of commercially-distributed plastic, labeled with a 3 and PVC. This type of plastic is produced in two general forms, first as a rigid or unplasticized polymer (uPVC) and flexible, plasticized PVC that’s softer and more amenable.

PVC is readily available and relatively inexpensive. It’s also dense and resists chemicals, alkalies, and impact deformation compared to other commercial plastics.

Some common products often made with PVC include:

  • Rigid pipes
  • Wire insulation
  • Residential flooring
  • Commercial flooring
  • Building siding

4 – Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

This is the fourth type of commercially-distributed plastic, labeled with a 4 and LDPE. As the names suggests, Low-Density Polyethylene has a lower “density” than HDPE. LDPE’s lower density and branched molecules give it somewhat different properties than HDPE, usually making it more pliable.

Some common household products often made with LDPE include:

  • Disposable shopping bags
  • Juice boxes
  • Wire insulation
  • Plastic film
  • Plastic baggies

5 – Polypropylene (PP)

This is the fifth type of commercially-distributed plastic, labeled with a 5 and PP. Polypropylene is a very tough, heat-resistant plastic that retains its shape after a lot of torsion, bending, and/or flexing. The professionals at Retlaw Industries manufacture high-quality roller chain sprockets, rebar chairs, idler pulleys and pulley adapters with PP composite plastic.

Some common products made from PP plastic include:

  • Plastic containers
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Medical components
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Toys
  • Luggage
  • Car parts

6 – Polystyrene (PS)

This is the sixth type of commercially-distributed plastic, labeled with a 6 and PS. Polystyrene (PS) plastic is a naturally transparent thermoplastic that is available as both a typical solid plastic as well in the form of a rigid foam material. Rigid polystyrene plastic is generally non-toxic and odorless, meaning it’s a predominant plastic in the food packaging and electronics industries. The professionals at Retlaw Industries manufacture high-quality roller chain sprockets, rebar chairs, idler pulleys and pulley adapters with Polystyrene composite plastic.

Some common products made from PS plastic include:

  • Household appliances
  • Car parts
  • Instrument panels
  • Foam in child car seats
  • IT equipment
  • TVs and computers
  • Medical test tubes, culture trays, and petri dishes
  • CD and DVD cases

7 – Other

This is the seventh type of commercially-distributed plastic, and it encompasses all other types of miscellaneous plastics that don’t fall within the first 6 types. Some plastics that fall under the Other category include polycarbonate (PC), acrylic (PMMA), nylon, fiberglass, and polylactic acid (PLA). 

Some common products made from these other types of plastic include:

  • Eyeglasses
  • PLA compostable cups
  • Bulk food containers
  • Fiberglass piping
The experts at Retlaw Industries can manufacture rebar chairs, roller chain sprockets, idler pulleys, or custom components with whatever plastic type you need! Contact us today to get a quote on our professional molding services.
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For over 40 years, Retlaw has produced quality injection molding tools which has led us into thermoplastic injection molding for a wide variety of industries. With over 19 injection molding machines, decades of collective experience, and over 50,000 square feet under roof and room to expand, we are always ready for your new projects.
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