Low density polyethylene (LDPE) is used predominantly in film applications due to its toughness, flexibility, and relative transparency. LDPE has a low melting point, making it popular for use in applications where heat sealing is necessary.
Typical End Uses
Typically, LDPE is used to manufacture flexible films such as those used for plastic retail bags and garment dry cleaning and grocery bags. LDPE is also used to manufacture some flexible lids and bottles, and it is widely used in wire and cable applications for its stable electrical properties and processing characteristics (American Plastics Council, adapted from Modern Plastics Encyclopedia, 1995).
In 1996, 7.7 billion pounds of virgin LDPE resin were produced in the U.S. In March 1996 Franklin & Associates estimated for EPA the amount of LDPE in products discarded in the municipal waste stream at 5.6 million tons for 1994. Franklin estimated that 800,000 tons were recycled nationwide in 1994.
Estimates are not available for the amount of LDPE postconsumer resin (PCR) used as manufacturing feedstock in California. In general, recycled polyethylene could be used in the manufacture the following commodities:
- Bottles, caps
- Packaging, film, bags
- Cable jacketing, pipe
- Typewriter ribbons
- Disposable house ware
- General commodity items
- Irrigation and plumbing pipes and joints