Packaging Materials 4: Polyethylene for Food Packaging Applications

ILSI Europe Report Series

The ILSI Europe Packaging Materials Task Force has published another report on Polyethylene for Food Packaging Applications. This report is the fourth in the series on packaging materials (following the first on PET, the second on polystyrene and the third on polypropylene). Polyethylene, often called polythene, is probably the plastic most well known to the consumer and is used in greater volume worldwide than any other plastic. Polyethylene’s dominance as a food packaging plastic is due to its relatively low cost, its range of versatile properties, and the ease with which it can be processed into the various packaging forms. Although polyethylene plastics were first produced over 50 years ago, manufacturing and processing developments continue to improve its properties, performance, and food packaging applications. The basic chemistry, safety considerations, and applications of polyethylene are reviewed in this report with respect to current regulations on plastic food-contact packaging. It is expected that this report will improve understanding of and will serve as a useful source of information on polyethylene packaging materials.

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