Profiles in Garbage: High-Density Polyethylene

High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) resin is produced from the chemical compound ethylene.

Bottles are blow-molded while containers are injection-molded. Milk bottles are the most common HDPE package.

Most milk and water bottles use a natural-colored HDPE resin, while detergents, shampoos, motor oils and other products usually have added colorants. HDPE also can be used to make bottle caps, sacks and trash bags. HDPE bottles and containers use the No. 2 in the plastic resin code.

HDPE bottles and containers began displacing heavier metal, glass and paper packages in the 1970s. Although the amount of HDPE used in packages has almost tripled since 1980, HDPE's solid waste market share is minimal. This profile covers HDPE bottles and containers only.