11 Types Of Food-Grade Plastic And Their Uses

In today's world, where safety and hygiene are paramount, the role of food-grade plastic in preserving and packaging our food cannot be overstated. This material is crucial for keeping food safe from contamination and extending its shelf life, making it an integral part of the food industry. Among the various materials available for food packaging, food-grade plastic stands out for its versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. In this blog post, we will explore 11 types of food-grade plastic and their specific uses in the food industry, highlighting why they are preferred for different food packaging solutions.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

Polyethylene Terephthalate, commonly known as PET or PETE, is a clear, strong, and lightweight plastic widely recognized for its use in water bottles, soft drink containers, and PET plastic cups. Beyond these common applications, PET's excellent barrier properties against water vapor, carbon dioxide, and oxygen make it ideal for packaging a wide variety of foods, including salad dressings, peanut butter, cooking oils, and mouthwash. Its ability to keep food safe from spoilage and extend shelf life, coupled with its recyclability, makes PET a popular choice among food-grade plastics.

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, is known for its high strength-to-density ratio, making it an excellent material for heavy-duty containers. HDPE is commonly used in milk jugs, detergent bottles, and some food containers. It is valued for its impact resistance and barrier qualities, which are essential for products requiring protection from moisture and a strong container for transportation. Moreover, HDPE's resistance to a wide range of temperatures allows it to be used for frozen food packaging and in applications where heat resistance is necessary.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, is a versatile plastic with a broad range of uses in the food industry. It is frequently used for cling wrap, oil bottles, and blister packaging for non-food items. PVC's flexibility, clarity, and natural resistance to oils make it an excellent choice for packaging fatty foods and in applications where the visibility of the product is important. However, the use of PVC is carefully regulated due to concerns over health risks associated with certain plasticizers that can leach into food.

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Low-Density Polyethylene, or LDPE, is a flexible food-grade plastic commonly used for plastic bags, squeezable bottles, and food wrapping films. Its flexibility and durability make it ideal for packaging soft items or items that need to be tightly sealed. LDPE is particularly noted for its ability to create airtight seals, preserving the freshness of bread, frozen foods, and snacks. Its resistance to acids, bases, and vegetable oils also makes it suitable for use in a wide range of food packaging applications.

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene, or PP, is a plastic known for its toughness and resistance to heat, making it perfect for use in containers that need to withstand microwave temperatures. This characteristic makes premium PP plastic microwavable food containers essential for anyone looking to safely heat and store their meals. The durability and safety of PP make it an excellent choice for food containers, ketchup bottles, and yogurt containers. Its high melting point ensures that the container does not deform under high temperatures, which is crucial for preserving the quality and safety of the food.

Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene, or PS, is a plastic used in a variety of food packaging applications, including disposable plates, cutlery, and meat trays. Its lightweight and insulating properties make it suitable for both hot and cold foods, providing convenience and flexibility in food service. Despite its widespread use, PS is subject to environmental concerns due to its difficulty in recycling and potential for pollution.

Polyethylene Naphthalate (PEN)

Polyethylene Naphthalate, or PEN, is a high-performance plastic that offers superior barrier properties against gases and liquids compared to PET. Its strength and resistance to temperature fluctuations make it ideal for packaging carbonated beverages, beer, and food products requiring long shelf lives. PEN's ability to maintain the integrity of the product over time, even under extreme conditions, ensures that food remains safe and fresh for consumption.

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

Polylactic Acid, or PLA, is a biodegradable plastic made from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane. It is increasingly used in food packaging for environmentally conscious consumers, including compostable plates, cups, and cutlery. PLA's biodegradability and compostability offer an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastics, reducing the environmental impact of food packaging.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, or ABS, is a thermoplastic polymer known for its strength and toughness. It is often used in kitchen appliances and utensils due to its high impact resistance and ability to withstand high temperatures. ABS is particularly suited for items that require durability and contact with hot foods or liquids, making it an ideal choice for high-quality kitchenware and food processing equipment.


Bioplastics are made from biological substances rather than petroleum. These plastics are gaining popularity due to their renewable nature and reduced environmental impact. Bioplastics are used in a variety of food packaging applications, such as containers, bottles, and film wraps. They offer a sustainable alternative to traditional plastics, with some types being biodegradable or compostable. The use of bioplastics in the food industry supports efforts towards sustainability and reduction of plastic waste.

Polyoxymethylene (POM)

Polyoxymethylene, or POM, also known as acetal, is a high-performance engineering plastic known for its high strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability. POM is used in parts that require precision and durability, such as in food processing machinery and utensils. Its resistance to hot water and detergents makes it particularly suitable for applications in kitchen appliances and gadgets that require frequent washing and exposure to food acids.

Choosing the Right Food-Grade Plastic

At Custom Cup Factory, we understand the critical importance of choosing the right food-grade plastic for your packaging needs. Our expertise in sourcing and supplying high-quality packaging solutions, including premium PP plastic microwavable food containers and plastic portion cups, ensures that our clients receive products that not only meet but exceed their expectations. We are dedicated to providing competitive pricing, exceptional customer service, and fast nationwide shipping. Let us help you find the perfect packaging solution that aligns with your brand identity and sustainability goals. Together, we can create packaging that is safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible.