Types of Plastic – What is PET?

PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, and it’s a type of polyester. It’s one of the most diverse types of plastic around and has numerous uses. This is largely down to the properties of the plastic that make it somewhat unique in comparison to others.

What makes PET unique?

PET plastic is different from a lot of other types of plastic because it has a combination of highly valuable features. It’s extremely strong and shatterproof, while also being very lightweight and cost-effective to produce. Not only that, but PET plastic is non-reactive and can be used to safely store food or drink. It also won’t be attacked by any micro-organisms, which is highly useful when looking for something to contain liquids and foods.

How is PET used?

PET is generally used as a plastic container for a range of different products across multiple industries. It can be used to create food containers, containers for medicine, dental products, toiletries, and even things like tennis balls. But, plastic PET bottles are perhaps the most common and widely known usage for this plastic. This is mainly because it’s hard to find something that can contain liquid without biologically degrading or contaminating the fluid. The only other option is glass, but this is heavy and costly. PET plastic is economical and safe to use for water and other beverages.

Can PET be recycled?

Yes, PET plastic can be recycled safely. In fact, it is the most recycled plastic out there, and it tends to be recycled into new containers or bottles for future use. In fact, you know if something contains PET because it will have the number 1 inside the recycling logo. This indicates plastic PET 1 and shows it can be recycled.

How safe is PET?

This polymer is very safe and has been approved by the FDA and other food safety authorities. This means it can come into contact with food or drink and there’s nothing to worry about. It’s also BPA-free, endocrine disruptor-free, and free from any phthalates. It does contain very small amounts of antimony in it, but this has been proven to not be a cause for concern.

Examples of PET plastic

As mentioned earlier, PET plastic is used primarily as a container or bottle. Here are a few examples that you encounter every day:

  • Water bottles
  • Soda bottles
  • Plastic peanut butter jars
  • Makeup containers
  • Bottles of bleach and other cleaners
  • Containers for baked goods
  • Fruit packaging
  • Pharma PET bottles


HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and LDPE (low-density polyethylene) are both used in the construction of plastic bottles as well. LDPE is used mainly for squeeze applications or bags due to the lack of rigidity. HDPE is used for lots of plastic bottles due to its impact resistance and flexibility. It can also handle higher temperatures than PET.

However, PET plastic is clear, making it look like glass when used. HDPE and LDPE are translucent in their appearance. Also, PET can be much harder and has a better chemical and alcohol resistance than the other two.