Thermoform Plastics: Renew, Reuse, Recycle

Each time we create a custom thermoform plastic package for one of our clients, quality is always our highest priority. However, sustainability is one of our top priorities. After all, we are located in Portland, Oregon, which is a center of environmental innovation.

You might have heard the terms “thermoset plastics” and “thermoplastics,” and while they sound similar, they are quite different. At Indepak, we work with thermoform plastic or thermoplastic, all of which can be recycled. Used thermoform plastic and thermoplastic scraps can be reused again and again.

Thermoset plastic is plastic that cannot be reused. While it is heated and molded similarly to thermoform plastic, once it has cooled and set, it cannot be melted down again and recycled. In some cases, people have discovered ways to re-use thermoset plastics, but they aren’t accepted by curbside recycling programs.

However, the thermoform plastics we use to create packaging for our clients are all recyclable. If you are concerned with recycling, there are many options that make it easy for you and your customers to recycle the thermoform plastic packaging that we create.

There are basically seven different types of thermoplastic, and each of these types of plastic is designated by a resin identification code. These are those triangles with numbers inside of them that you find on water bottles and other plastic items. This number indicates the type of thermoform plastics used to create a package, bottle or other plastic item.

The thermoform plastics that are identified with a number 1 or 2 are almost always accepted by community recycling programs, making it easy for consumers to simply toss these items into their recycling bins. The number 1 was given to polyethylene terephthalate, which is used for water bottles, thermoform trays, food jars and much more. This type of thermoform plastic also is sometimes known as PET or PETE.

High-density polyethylene is the second most commonly recycled thermoform plastic and this is identified by the number 2. This also is used for items such as bottles and milk jugs, as well as plastic shopping bags and shipping containers, to name just a few items. Most recycling programs also accept high-density polyethylene or HDPE. Among the remaining five types of thermoform plastics, numbers 4, 5 and 6 often can be recycled and more and more cities are expanding recycling programs to include additional plastics.

Number 3 thermoform plastics are made from polyvinyl chloride or PVC, and while it can be recycled, it often is not accepted by recycling programs. However, it can be recycled and used to make items such as park benches and flooring which will be used for a very long time. In general, items made from PVC might not be able to be recycled as easily, but they often are intended to be used for many years and not simply tossed into a bin like a water bottle.

No matter what type of thermoform plastic you need for your custom packaging, we are committed to reducing the amount of waste in general. We are a low-waste operation and also offer many options that include recycled content or perhaps bioplastics. Contact us today and we can find a custom packaging solution that is right for your unique product.

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