Have you heard? What could bottles, cereal bag liners, cutting boards, automotive parts, playground equipment, outdoor patio furniture, hard hats, snowboards, and livestock containments possibly have in common? It is not color, weight, or size. You cannot group them together as one type of item.  Even how you use each item is different. Perplexed? Have you figured it out yet? The answer is . . . they are all made out of HDPE!

what is hdpeRead on to learn more!

What is HDPE? An Overview

So, what is HDPE?  Thanks for asking.  This plastic material, called HDPE, stands for High Density PolyEthylene.  OK.  I get it.  Another big word.  It is a thermoplastic polymer which means that it becomes soft, pliable, or moldable when heated at a very high temperature and hardens upon cooling.   It is made by stringing together ethylene molecules (thus “poly” “ethylene”), which are derived predominately from natural gas resources in the U.S.

10 Benefits of HDPE

From the list above, you can see that it is not only a versatile plastic material, but it is very popular.  What makes HDPE so popular?

Low Friction Coefficient

HDPE has a low coefficient of friction and can be easily cut, colored, machined, welded, and thermoformed for easy fabrication. The many colors, textures, and thicknesses give you a lot of room for customization.

HDPE is used across many industries such as marine, medical, food processing, nuclear, agriculture, sign, and manufacturing.


HDPE is regularly used to manufacture consumer, commercial, and industrial products such as pump parts, valve parts, bushings, bearings, washers, containers, and tanks.

Lightweight Durability

It is lightweight yet super-strong. That is why an HDPE bottle that weighs 2 ounces can carry a gallon of liquid or 8 pounds of weight!

High Versatility

HDPE is super versatile as it has two forms. Its rigid form is used for things like containers and its flexible form is used for items such as bags and liners.

Application Diversity

It is easy to mold into many shapes. Once it has reached its melting point, the plastic material can be quickly molded for use across a variety of applications such as detergent bottles, milk jugs, food storage containers, plastic lumber, and toys.

Impact Resistant Capabilities

HDPE is impact resistant. One of our family’s favorite thing to do with the children is to race toy cars.  We have a large sturdy coffee table that we use.  We prop up one end to get that optimum downhill slope.  The cars are lined up at the top, held back by a book or a long ruler by one person at the top of the table. Another person is watching the finish line to see which car crosses first.  The book is lifted and off they race, crashing onto the floor.  HDPE has done its job well.  The cars are still intact.  The winning car moves on to race another round until only one has been crowned the winner.

Corrosion Resistance

HDPE resists UV rays, mold, mildew, rotting, insects, and virtually impervious to most common chemicals, waters, solvents, acids, detergents, and cleaning fluids. This resistance makes it the perfect choice for underground piping used to deliver water.

FDA, NSF, and USDA Compliance

HDPE is FDA, NSF, and USDA approved. HDPE can be sterilized by boiling and it is dishwasher safe. These factors make it the best material for beverage containers, cutting boards, butter containers, large food buckets such as those that supply school cafeterias and restaurants, countertops, and work surfaces.

Non-Toxic Safety

Remember the toys mentioned earlier? HDPE is the safest plastic used in toys as it is a BPA, styrene, and phthalate-free plastic which means it does not release hazardous toxic substances.  Just look for  imprinted into the plastic.

HDPE’s Reusability

Speaking about the form imprinted into the plastic, that means it is recyclable.  The number 2 imprinted into plastic is HDPE’s resin identification code.  Almost every curbside recycling program in the U.S. today accepts HDPE bottles.

According to Recycling Today’s news article published in December of 2019, domestic collection of plastic bottles for recycling increased by 52 million pounds, or 1.8 percent in 2018 over 2017.  A total of 2.9 billion pounds of plastic bottles were collected for recycling in 2018.  While that sounds high, the plastic bottle recycling has declined 0.4 percentage points since 2016.  So, that increase of 52 million pounds in 2018 was encouraging.

Please remember to do your share in recycling any plastic container with a 1, 2, or 3 imprinted into the plastic (or whatever your recycling center accepts). Recycling HDPE helps keep non-biodegradable waste out of landfills, while helping reduce plastic production by up to 50 percent!

If you are looking for a cost-effective, environmentally responsible material, HDPE may be the right plastic for your next project.

Buy Custom HDPE Products with Polyfab Display

Now that you know a little more about HDPE, you are probably wondering where it is available for purchase. Look no further!  Polyfab Display Company is a plastic sheet material supplier, including HDPE sheets.

Give us a call at 703-497-4577 or reach out by email to info@polyfab-display.com. We are here to help you find the best product for your next project!