Choosing the right type of plastic for manufacturing plastic food containers

When manufacturing plastic products that will contain or come in contact with food or beverages. It is strongly advised that the type of plastic material used is investigated to ensure that it is safe for use. In order to ensure the safety of the plastic product to the end consumer. It should be noted that certain types of plastic are used to fulfill certain roles and applications. The types of plastic have different characteristics which allows them to be suitable for certain products. Whereas as some types of plastic it is highly advised to not be used for some products. For instance one type of plastic used to produce water bottles, will not be suitable to contain dairy products or hot food. Certain types of plastic may also be affected by heat that can be hazardous.Read below for more.

Information on the right type of plastic

Manufacturers use common international symbols to indicate the type of plastic materials used within certain products. It is located on the bottom as a graphic symbol consisting of three arrows forming a triangle. In the middle of the triangle there is a number from 1 to 7.


Types of plastic

Types of plastic


1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)


This type of plastic is mainly used  for manufacturing  beverage containers. PET is used to make bottles of mineral water, soft drinks, ketchup, peanut butter jars, etc. Such items are commonly recycled.


2 – HDPE

HDPE (high density) is used for the production of semi-rigid containers.  It is one of the safest plastics which can be reused.


3 – PVC


Polyvinyl chloride is present within construction and decoration materials, furniture, shoes, medical products, water bottles, food packaging film. One thing to note is that PVC can be dangerous and can release toxins that may affect your health.


4 – LDPE

Low density polyethylene plastic material is present within products such as bottles for detergents, toys and pipes. They are typically used to make thin and flexible products such as plastic bags for fresh produce, dry-cleaning and frozen food. Most stretch films are made from LDPE as well as coatings for milk cartons and disposable cups.


5 – PP

Polypropylene can be used multiple times and is common as a material for food containers or Tupperware . It belongs to the most safe plastics material along with HDPE. It is not commonly recycled, but can be used in many areas. It is strong and is resistant to high temperatures, but this type of plastic cannot be transparent. This type of plastic, Polypropylene is present within  medical products, equipment for hot meal and food packaging film.


Types of plastic

Types of plastic


6 – PS

Polystyrene is also well-known as a foam. Is widely used to cushion packages. Polystyrene releases toxins and should not be used as food packaging.




These other types of plastic should never be re-used. Including Baby bottles, microwave oven ware and eating utensils. This type of plastic includes many types of harmful chemicals. That can cause injury or death if ingested.


PolyCyclohexylendimethylene Terephthalate Glycol plastic (PCTG).

This material is tough, strong and chemical resistant. It is clear and transparent. This type of plastic is used in manufacturing plastic dishes, credit cards, blister packaging, rapid deployment flood walls, and bags. From an aesthetic stand point, PCTG plastic offers a matte or glossy finish depending on the print temperature. What makes Essentium PCTG unique is its superior Izod Impact Resistance. This means it can withstand much higher impacts than similar filaments while still maintaining similar tensile strength and heat resistance.


So what types of plastic are suitable for production of plastic cups and containers?

Plastic cups and containers can be successfully made of PC, PET or PCTG material. But these plastics will have different characteristics and as a result will be suitable for different functions.
One of the most important requirements in producing such items .Is the question whether the plastic product is dishwasher safe.

Heating certain types of plastic can be inadvisable due to the effect upon the chemical structure. This can cause the plastic product to deform or melt when heated. When heating any type of plastic in the microwave or dishwasher it is strongly advised to check that the type of plastic is safe for these appliances.

Before  manufacturing of your plastic dishes start. It should be noted  that PET will melt at temperatures higher than 70C (the upper limit for dishwasher water). PC is heat resistant. However it releases BPAs, which makes it acceptable only for hand washing. PCTG material can withstand various chemicals and cleaning agents as well as high temperatures. It does not contain BPAs, which makes it the most suitable option.

At ODM we advise that PCTG is used. It is heat safe or in this case dishwasher safe. As it can be hazardous to put certain types of plastic products into this appliance. Manufacturers also strongly recommend that PCTG plastic is used as it is the most safest material and will not cause harm or injury to the user.

What types of plastic are not safe to be used for food packaging?

PVC, Polystyrene and other categories of plastics (excluding plastics made of PC, PP, LDPE, HDPE, PET or PCTG material) are not safe for food contact. They contain chemicals that are harmful to consumers when ingested.

When should I use plastic packaging?

Use plastic when : 1. The Product requires protection from contamination/damage done by moisture, humidity, gases, micro-organisms, insects, or light. Plastic prevents particles from penetrating into the packaging. 2. The Product has a relatively short shelf-life. Plastic is used to preserve goods that are vulnerable to deterioration, such as food. 3. The Packaging requires complex details and information. Plastic is durable and versatile; therefore it can be moulded into different shapes and designs that will suit the brand’s products.

Which type of plastic is heat resistant?

The most durable and heat-resistant type of plastic is PCTG Plastics. It can endure different types of cleaning solutions and retain its chemical structure under high temperatures (285 °C) without releasing any Bisphenol A (BPAs). PCTG plastics are highly recommended by the ODM Group.


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