← Back to Articles

Qualities of Common Plastic Bottle Materials

HDPE - High Density Polyethylene

  • Excellent moisture barrier
  • Impact resistant
  • Translucent
  • Ideal for high-speed filling
  • Well suited for demanding pharmaceutical specifications, water-based chemicals, toiletries & cosmetics, and certain food products
  • Inadequate for products sensitive to oxidation or those products which contain solvents

High Density Polyethylene is the most widely used resin for extruding blown plastic bottles. HDPE is economical, impact resistant, and provides a good moisture barrier. It is compatible with many products, including acid concentrates and some caustics, but not with solvents. HDPE is naturally translucent and flexible. The addition of color will make HDPE opaque, although not glossy. HDPE offers protection at below-freezing temperatures but must not be used with products filled at over 145°F or products requiring a hermetic seal.

LDPE - Low Density Polyethylene

  • Squeezable and soft, particularly suited for squeeze spray or dropper applications
  • Virtually unbreakable and more resistant to stress cracking than HDPE
  • Retains impact strength at very low temperatures
  • Does not withstand product fill temperatures of more than 120ºF
  • Poor barrier to gases or solvents

Low Density Polyethylene is very similar to HDPE in composition, but it is less rigid and is generally less chemically resistant. LDPE, however, is more translucent and flexible than HDPE. LDPE is ideal for use with products requiring flexible and squeezable packaging such as shampoo, conditioners, adhesives, and many others. LDPE bottles usually have a much glossier finish than comparable HDPE bottles.

PET - Polyethylene Terephthalate

  • Glass like clarity
  • Durable
  • Rigid
  • Impact resistant
  • Exceptional gas and moisture barrier properties
  • Good alcohol & solvent barrier
  • Not suitable generally for hot fill applications

PET is a durable material with excellent gloss, clarity, and impact resistance desired for clear bottles. PET containers are ideal for personal care, food, beverage, and pharmaceutical products. When you want the appeal of glass, but want the safety, lightweight, and convenience of plastic, choose PET.

PVC - Vinyl/Polyvinyl Chloride

  • Transparent
  • Rigid
  • Excellent resistance to oxygen permeation and oils
  • Good water barrier characteristics
  • Commonly used in the toiletry and cosmetic market

Polyvinyl Chloride is naturally clear (can be hazy in thicker forms), has extremely good oil resistance, and has very low oxygen transmission. It provides an excellent barrier to most gases, and its drop impact resistance is also very good. This semi-rigid material is also very chemically resistant, but it is vulnerable to solvents. Most PVC containers will distort at 160°F, making them incompatible with hot-filled products. Since it provides a good oxygen barrier, PVC is an excellent choice for salad oil, mineral oil, and vinegar. It is also commonly used for shampoos and cosmetic products.

PP - Polypropylene

  • Autoclavable
  • Excellent contact clarity
  • Can be used for hot fill opportunities beyond the limits of HDPE
  • Excellent impact strength, stress crack resistance, and barrier characteristic
  • Lightweight and strong
  • Tends to become brittle at lower temperature ranges

Polypropylene is a naturally translucent material that provides an excellent moisture barrier. Polypropylene is very stable at high temperatures (up to 165°F), which allows it to be used in hot fill applications such as pancake syrup. In addition, it works very well to preserve the freshness and flavor of dried foods, which makes it ideal for storing spices, dried fruit, or flour. Polypropylene is also autoclavable (can withstand a strong, pressurized, steam-heated vessel for sterilization) and offers the potential for steam sterilization. PP has excellent chemical resistance but provides poor impact resistance in cold temperatures.

PS - Polystyrene

  • Rigid, glass-like clarity
  • Lightweight
  • Able to withstand high fill temperatures up to 150°F
  • Generally used for dry products, which are not extremely hygroscopic

Polystyrene provides the crystal appearance and stiffness of glass. It also works well as an oxygen barrier to preserve freshness. Polystyrene, however, provides poor to moderate resistance to impact temperature and UV exposure.


  • Transparent
  • Impact resistant
  • Rigid
  • Outstanding dimensional stability
  • Resistant to ultraviolet light
  • High heat resistance
Title: Qualities of Common Plastic Bottle Materials
Description: Important material properties for plastic bottles to help you make the right selection.
Published: 11/30/2015
Last Edited: 2/27/2023

138 users found this article useful. Was this article useful to you?


Information disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by United States Plastic Corp. and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of materials, time or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this information.