Comar: 2016 Science of Ingredients
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Package Material for Nutraceutical Products
Custom Plastic Packaging: PET Versus HDPE
PET, or HDPE, is the most basic question for a nutraceutical manufacturer and packaging company. As with other types of foods, nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical products, very careful considerations must be made in designing packaging. Does the bottle need to be more resistant to light, oxygen or moisture permeation? Is re-sealability or child resistancy a requirement?
When it comes to plastic bottles and other kinds of plastic containers, high-density polyethylene (HDPE, recycling symbol two) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET, recycling symbol one) are the two most common plastic resins used in containers. But how do you decide between the two?
HDPE resins are known for their high strength-to-density ratio, making it durable and stronger than other types of plastic. HDPE is opaque, a good moisture barrier and has good impact strength. HDPE bottles also are able to withstand freezing temperatures well and higher temperatures moderately well. It’s because of these properties for example, that HDPE plastic is most commonly used in milk jugs and other dairy containers, which must help keep out light that could quickly spoil milk products. Additionally, HDPE is chemically inert and can be molded in sizes, shapes and colors to fit specific needs.
PET is more widely used for beverages like soft drinks and bottled water. That is because PET resins are a highly effective oxygen barrier and an effective moisture barrier. PET bottles typically clear and glossy in appearance. Oriented PET offers excellent impact resistance in lightweight packages. PET can also be molded in sizes, shapes and colors to fix specific needs. PET is more temperature sensitive than HDPE. With the right designs, either type of resin can make an ideal packaging material for nutraceutical products. It is typical to see vitamins and supplement products in PET packers and probiotics and in HDPE. Sports nutrition powders can be found in both HDPE and PET.
Other Major Concerns in Health and Wellness Packaging
In addition to choosing the most appropriate type of plastic resin for custom product packaging, there are still other important factors to consider. Consumers are also interested in responsible recycling. Fortunately, not only are HDPE and PET 100 percent recyclable, but as much as 100 percent of a particular package can be made from recycled materials as well. And with 9,400 curbside collection operations and 10,000 drop-off sites currently accepting HDPE and PET, these are two of the easiest materials to recycle in the world.
Also, many consumers interested in supplements and health products are concerned about the presence of BPA, or bisphenol A. This industrial chemical has been used in food and beverage packaging, and even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed it safe in low levels, many consumers are nervous about its presence in food products. For that reason, it’s crucial to emphasize that both PET and HDPE are BPA free. Finally, although supplements are not regulated in the same way that pharmaceuticals are, many companies are choosing to proactively invest in child-safe custom packaging for vitamins and nutritional supplements, especially gummy forms.