LDPE is an acronym for low-density polyethylene. This type of plastic can be identified in many products we use with the resin code, or recycling number, 4.
According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), LDPE is primarily used in film applications because it is tough, flexible and relatively transparent. LDPE is also used to produce some flexible lids and bottles as well as in wire and cable applications.
The ACC reports that LDPE has an excellent resistance to acids, bases and vegetable oils. Its toughness, flexibility and relative transparency make it good for packaging applications requiring heat-sealing.
LDPE is used to make many thin, flexible products like plastic bags for dry-cleaning, newspapers, bread, frozen foods, fresh produce and garbage. Most shrink-wrap and stretch film is also made out of LDPE, as well as coatings for paper milk cartons and disposable beverage cups. Manufacturers also use LDPE to create thin container lids, squeezable bottles and some toys.
Most areas offer recycling for products made with LDPE and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), which also features a recycling number 4. Like all other types of plastic, LDPE can take hundreds of years to decompose in the landfill, so products that are made exclusively of LDPE should be recycled if possible. Some areas don’t offer recycling for plastic bags made from LDPE, but these can be reused instead.
Products Made with Recycled Content
Recycled LDPE can be used to produce shipping envelopes, garbage can liners, floor tile, paneling, furniture, compost bins, trashcans, landscape timber and outdoor lumber, according to the ACC.