Technical Properties of Common Cosmetic Plastics & Resins

Resins Polyester Polyester Polyvinyl Chloride Barex Polyethylene Polyethylene Polypropylene
Clarity Clear Clear Clear Clear Opaque Opaque Translucent
Rigidity/Stiffness Moderate to High Moderate to High Moderate to High High Moderate Low Moderate to High
Impact Resistance Good to Excellent Good Fair to Good Fair to Good Good to Excellent Excellent Poor to Good
Low Temp. Impact Resistance Fair to Good Poor Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Good to Excellent Excellent Poor to Good
Stress Crack Resistance Good to Excellent Good Good to Excellent Good to Excellent Good to Excellent Good Good to Excellent
Moisture Barrier Fair to Good Fair to Good Fair Fair Good to Excellent Good Good to Excellent
Oxygen Barrier Good Good Good Excellent Poor Poor Poor
Scuff Resistance Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Very Good Very Good Very Good
Resistance to:
Acids Fair to Good Fair to Good Good to Excellent Fair to Good Fair to Very Good Fair to Very Good Fair to Good
Alcohols Good Good Good to Very Good Good Good Good Good
Alkalis Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Good to Very Good Good Good to Very Good Good to Very Good Very Good
Mineral Oils Good Good Good Excellent Fair Poor to Fair Fair
Solvents Good Good Fair to Good Excellent Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Good
Heat Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Good Fair Good
Cold Good Good Fair Fair Excellent Excellent Poor to Fair
Sunlight Good Good Poor to Good Poor to Good Fair Fair Fair

*This information is supplied for use as a guideline only. Information may vary under certain conditions. It is the responsibility of the customer to make compatibility tests with each product application.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)PET1

PET or PETE (or the obsolete PETP or PET-P) is of the polyester family and is used in beverage, food, and other liquid containers. PET can be semi-rigid to rigid and is very lightweight. It acts as a good barrier to alcohol (requires additional “Barrier” treatment) and solvents. It is strong, impact-resistant, and naturally colorless and transparent. Common uses: Soft drink bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars, products containing essential oils, some fruit juices, alcohol beverage bottles, space blankets.
PET is often recycled into new bottles, polyester for fabrics, and fiberfill for jackets.

High-density polyethelene (HDPE)HDPE

HDPE is made from petroleum. HDPE has a stronger intermolecular force and tensile strength than low density polyethylene (LDPE). It is also harder and more opaque and can withstand somewhat higher temperatures: 248 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods, 230 degrees Fahrenheit continuously. Common uses: Milk jugs, distilled water, large vinegar bottles, grocery bags, liquid laundry and dish detergent, fabric softener, motor oil, antifreeze, bleach and lotion. 
Clear HDPE containers are recycled into new containers, while colored HDPE containers are often recycled into pipes, rope, plastic lumber, and toys.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)PVC

Nearly 57% of PVC is chlorine, requiring less petroleum than other plastics. PVC is biologically and chemically resistant. It is the third most widely used plastic after PET and PP. PVC is ideal for storing shampoos, oils, and other chemicals. PVC plastic bottles are durable for long periods of time and can withstand various environmental demands. Common uses: Chemical spray bottles, pipes, electrical wire insulation, clothing, bags, upholstery, tubing, flooring, waterbeds, pool toys, bottles.
PVC is one of the least recyclable plastics because of additives. Potentially harmful substances can be created by the disposal of PVC.

Low-density polyethelene (LDPE)LDPE

LDPE is made from oil. Its tensile strength and density is lower, but its resilience is higher than high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It can withstand temperatures of 175 degrees Fahrenheit continuously and 203 degrees Fahrenheit for a short time. It can be translucent or opaque, is flexible, tough, an almost unbreakable. Common uses: dry-cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers, bread bags, squeezable containers, six pack soda can rings, food storage.
LDPE is not typically recycled.

Polypropylene (PP)PP

PP is often used for food packaging. It’s not as tough as HDPE, but it is less brittle. PP is less flexible than LDPE, somewhat stiffer than other plastics, reasonable economical, and can be translucent, opaque, or of any color. PP has very good resistance to fatigue. PP has a melting point of 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Food containers will not melt in the dishwasher nor during industrial hot filling processes. Common uses: Bottle caps, drinking straws, hinged containers, battery cases, dairy tubs (e.g. sour cream, cottage cheese), cereal box liners.
Variations in the type and grade of PP make it difficult to achieve consistent quality during recycling.

Polystyrene (PS)PS

PS is made from petroleum. Pure solid polystyrene is a colorless, hard plastic with limited flexibility. It can be cast into molds with fine detail. Polystyrene can be transparent or can be made to take on various colors. Common uses: Bottle caps, drinking straws, yogurt cups, clear carryout containers, vitamin bottles, fast food, spoons, knives and forks, hot cups, meat and produce trays, egg cartons, clamshell carryout food containers.
Recycling PS is not always economically viable but it is possible.


This is the catch all category of all other plastics. Many biodegradable, photo-sensitive, and plant-based plastics fit in this category. Additionally, any plastic resin type that has been developed since the original 6 resin types were established in 1988, are marked with the 7 or Other resin identification code. As such, listing common uses for these kinds of plastics is nearly impossible since their applications and characteristics are so diverse.
Mixed resins are also difficult to recycle.

For more information about packaging products, visit our dictionary page.