High-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin is produced from the chemical compound ethylene. HDPE bottles are blow-molded and used for milk and other beverages, detergents, shampoos, motor oil, drugs and cosmetic products. Most milk and water bottles use a colorless HDPE resin. Bottles used for other products often have colorants added to the resin.

Injection-molded HPDE containers are used for products such as margarine and yogurt. More HDPE bottles are produced than containers. HDPE resin can also be used to make bottle and container caps and flexible packaging such as sacks and trash bags. HDPE is also used in many non-packaging products.

Bottles and containers comprise 54 percent of HDPE packaging products and 39 percent of all HDPE products. HDPE bottles and containers began displacing heavier metal, glass and paper packages in the 1970s. Although the amount of HDPE used in bottles and containers has tripled since 1980, its garbage market share is still less than 1 percent.

This profile only covers HDPE bottles and containers.

Chaz Miller is state programs director for the National Solid Wastes Management Association, Washington. E-mail him at: cmiller@envasns.org.