If you are thinking to make clear plastic packaging for your design, one of the most common question you might have is what material should I use? Should I use PVC or PET?
Here we will talk about 13 reasons that why PET is better than PVC, such as durability, price, transparency, weight and so on. We will also discuss some of the disadvantage of PET and the most asked questions about PET: Is PET toxic? Can PET be reused? Will PET cause cancer?
What is PET
ポリエチレンテレフタレート (PET) is the most common thermoplastic resin of the polyester family. It is widely used for fiber production in clothing, containers for liquids and food items, and thermoforming for manufacturing.
The use of PET is very extensive in making bottles and containers for packaging liquid and food products. Its features make it ideal for being used in packaging food items. It is a very strong material and inert which does not react with food and beverages.
It is resistant to attacks by micro-organisms, is lightweight, easy to transport, and also shatterproof. It is completely recyclable and is one of the most recycled plastic globally.
Europe has a PET recycling rate of 52% and the US has 31%. Considering these properties, PET is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and sustainable product for packaging.
What is PET Made From
PET was first developed for use in synthetic fibers by British Calico Printers in 1941. The patent rights were then sold to DuPont and ICI. Ethyl glycol and terephthalic acid are the building blocks of PET, which combine together to form a polymer chain.
The strands of PET are then extruded, quickly cooled, and cut into small pellets. These pellets are then heated which converts them into a molten liquid which can be easily molded into items of any shape and size.
The majority of the use of PET (more than 60%) is for production of synthetic fiber commonly known as nylon. Packaging accounts for about 30% of the global demand for PET.
What is PVC
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is the world’s third-most widely used synthetic plastic polymer with about 40 million tons of annual production. It is made of 57% chlorine and 43% carbon.
PVC is made in two general forms- as rigid polymer and flexible plastic. It has a wide application and is used for manufacturing pipes, electric cables, signboards, clothing, flooring, and other construction works.
PVC is a dense plastic and cheap also. It is very hard, has extremely good tensile strength, and is resistant to chemicals and alkalies. It is toxic and can pose health hazards as when burnt, it emits hydrogen chloride (HCl) fumes.
Here is a video show you the way how to tell whether a plastic box is made with PVC or PET:
Reasons PET is Better Than PVC
Some of the key reasons why PET is better than PVC are provided below:
Both PET and PVC have an oil base. One aspect where PET scores over PVC is its recycling abilities.
In the US, most municipal authorities do not accept PVC in the consumer recycling program. PET, on the other hand, is one of the most widely recycled plastics in the US and around the world. Overall, PET is eco-friendlier than PVC.
Here is another comparison between PET, PVC and PP material.
Safer for storing material, especially for food
PET is safer for storing food materials compared to PVC. It helps keep food safe and free from damage during transit.
Most food products are packaged using PET. It is also the FDA approved material for food contact and is completely recyclable which gives it an added advantage over PVC.
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PVC is a rigid plastic which is moderately durable. It can become hard and eventually break down with exposure to sunlight. This is not an ideal material for using in packaging material.
PET is much stronger and more durable product and can withstand UV rays and other natural elements. It is preferred to PVC for being used as packaging material.
PVC and PET are closely priced with the latter being less expensive.
PET contains more oil-based raw materials than PVC and hence its price changes with fluctuations in oil prices.
PET also has a higher scrap value than PVC. Overall, using PET is a cheaper alternative in the long-run.
PET is significantly more transparent than PVC. It is highly transparent and provides the customers with an excellent view of the stored product inside it.
PVC is less transparent and lacks clarity when compared to PET and it can also have a light blue color which degrades its transparency.
PET is lightweight and weighs lesser compared to PVC. The unique features of being lightweight and durable making it a perfect material for food items and non-perishable products. PVC is heavier and less durable also.
Thermoforming is the ease of molding the plastic into shapes.
PET has a higher thermal conductivity than PVC which means that it needs less energy for it to be molded during thermoforming and quicker cycle time. Clearly, PET is the better choice in this respect.
PET has a cleaner and more transparent appearance than PVC.
Though it is colorless, colors can be added to it as needed. The cleaner appearance and durability make it a highly popular packaging material.
PVC is less transparent and it is less durable also. It hardens with exposure to UV rays and starts breaking up much faster.
PET has a higher-pressure resistance compared to PVC.
This makes it perfect as packaging materials for carbonated soft drinks, aerosol product cans, perfumes, etc.
When it comes to the shiny front surface, PET scores over PVC.
It has crystal glass like a surface gloss and is unbreakable, lightweight and very durable. PVC has much lesser surface gloss.
Gas and moisture barrier
PET provides a much better gas and moisture barrier compared to PVC.
This makes it an ideal material for packaging materials, storage material for food items, and packaging of electronic items.
Although PVC was one of the first items to be used for food packaging, it is no longer the ideal material for the same.
PET will not break or shatter. Being lightweight, transparent, and unbreakable make it an excellent alternative to glass.
PVC though is not as durable. It becomes harder with time with UV exposure and starts to crack.
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This makes it a lesser preferred material for the packaging of products.
One of the greatest benefits of PET over PVC is its recyclability. PET is completely recyclable and it is one of the widest recycled plastic in the world.
This also makes it an eco-friendly product.
PVC, on the other hand, is not recyclable and is not accepted by most of the municipal authorities in their consumer recycling program.
Disadvantages of PET
PET has a few disadvantages also. Some of the major disadvantages of using PET are as follows:
Susceptible to Oxidation
PET bottles and containers are prone to oxidation.
This property makes it unsuitable for packaging of certain products like beer or wine storage.
As the shelf life of these products is expected to be long, if they are packaged in PET bottles, then there can be a degradation in taste by the time it is consumed finally.
Even though PET is completely recyclable, but many consumers do not recycle their bottles and containers. Recycling these bottles is complex and depends on the city’s recycling system.
Absorption of Flavors
PET containers when used to store food items, can absorb the flavors and smells of those food items.
Food items having strong smell and flavors can be absorbed by these containers and the smell can persist even after it is washed thoroughly.
This can make it difficult to store other food items.
There have been rumors and false claims on using the PET bottles and packaging.
People are influenced by these false claims of PET causing cancer and other serious health disorders due to leaching of harmful chemicals.
Though there is no scientific evidence to back these claims, some customers have formed a negative image of the material.
Items to Look for in PET Packaging
Some of the most popular and wide usages of PET packaging are provided below:
Food containers such as pouches are generally made of PET. The plastic is lightweight, strong, clear, and inert in nature which means it does not react with different food items. It also has gas and moisture barrier properties which make it ideal for being used in food containers.
The durability of PET also makes it a popular choice for using it in food containers.
Lotions and similar products use PET as packaging material. The features like lightweight, durability, and protection from micro-organisms make it a perfect packaging material for lotions.
The packaging does not break like glass and is durable which means that the chances of damage during transit are negligible. This reduces the loss during transit.
PET is lightweight and flexible and is suitable for one-time use for packaging of non-food items.
It remains the most preferred materials for packaging cosmetics.
The durability and other features of PET ensure that the cosmetic products remain damage free for a longer duration during transit and reach the end consumer safely.
The cost-effectiveness of PET also contributes towards competitive product pricing.
PET is used for the packaging of toothpaste.
The packaging comes in the form of containers or sachets which are recyclable.
The packaging is unique and is becoming popular.
It provides customers with a clear view of the plastic tube inside.
Due to being recyclable, the PET packaging is not only eco-friendly, but it provides a premium feel to the product also.
Bottle production is one of the most widely used applications of PET.
Due to it being strong, versatile, and transparent which helps to protect the freshness and taste of the water.
The bottles manufactured are durable and shatter resistant.
As the bottles are recyclable, they do not pose a threat to the environment.
More than 60% of the total global PET production is for making synthetic fibers.
In the field of textile applications, PET is commonly known as nylon which is a strong and durable synthetic fiber.
PET is also widely used in packaging and making of baby products.
The plastic baby products used for making plastic bottles, drinking cups, etc. are bisphenol A (BPA) free and are completely safe for babies.
In addition, PET is also used for packaging of baby products.
Being resistant to attacks by micro-organisms and moisture make it suitable for packaging and making of different baby products.
PET is also used for manufacturing high performance electrical and electronics components.
Glass-reinforced PET provides stiffness, temperature performance, maximum dimensional stability, and high gloss finish.
The glass reinforced PET has easier processability which is helpful for preparing high-quality parts which can then be molded conventionally.
Its unique feature of low water absorption ensures that the electrical and electronic parts maintain their properties and dimension.
Is PET toxic?
PET is not known to leach any chemicals which are harmful and can potentially cause cancer or disrupt hormones. It is biologically inert even if ingested, is dermally safe during handling and is not hazardous if inhaled. PET is completely safe for use and does not cause any harmful diseases.
Can PET bottle be reused?
There have been many theories which contradict reusing PET bottles. However, it has been cleared for single and repeated use by the FDA and similar authorities globally.
It is a stable and inert material which does not degrade biologically or chemically and is also resistant to micro-organism attacks. No incidences of harmful substances have been found in reused bottles.
Can PET be used in oven or microwave?
Special grades of PET are safe for use in oven or microwave.
This special grade PET has the same basic chemical formula as the simple PET, however, special additives which crystallize are added to it.
These additives make it tough and it can withstand high temperatures when subjected to use in oven or microwave.
Can PET bottles and containers be recycled
Yes, PET bottles and containers are 100% recyclable. It can be recovered and recycled many times again and again.
Approximately 1.5 billion pounds of used PET bottles and containers are collected for recycling each year in the US. It is the most recycled plastic in the US.
What happens to PET bottles end up in landfills without recycling?
PET bottles which end up in landfills are safe and do not pose any environmental hazard. PET is resistant to attacks from micro-organisms and does not degrade biologically.
Such bottles which end up in landfills without recycling will remain inert and hence pose no threat of leaching chemicals and contaminating groundwater.
What is the trend of PET packaging usage?
PET is one of the most widely used materials for packaging of food and non-food products worldwide. It is used to package products like cosmetics, toothpaste, baby products, electronics, food items, etc.
The plastic is transparent, lightweight and very durable which makes it popular for packaging uses. It prevents any damage while transit and the end consumer get the products intact.
Will PET cause cancer?
PET has not been known to cause cancer in any documented study or experiments.
There have been rumors and hoax claiming that PET can cause leaching of chemicals and lead to cancer. However, at present, there is no strong and conclusive evidence that PET can cause cancer.
Where to buy PET packaging box?
PET packaging boxes are easily available in the market. These boxes are widely used for packaging and ideal for such usage. They are strong and durable and prevent any damage to the content inside and reduce losses due to transit damage. You can also find a clear plastic box supplier online as well.
ALPPM provides one-stop product packaging solution for clients from all over the world, if you need some help with your product packaging, please contact us: [email protected]