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Polyethylene (PE) polymer: HDPE, LDPE & LLDPE

Plastic bags, containers, tubes, films, laminates, and many more are the final applications made from Polyethylene (PE). Polyethylene plastics are the most used polymer in the world. The global market for PE plastic is expected to reach 130 million metric tons by 2029.

Polymer prices are majorly affected by the prices of crude oil. Major Indian polymer manufacturing companies weekly revise the polymer prices with the movement of crude oil. Polyethylene prices are so volatile that industry persons have sometimes found it difficult to keep track of the price trends. Also, the majority of them who are new to the industry might not get a hold of what differentiates various polymer grades.

What is Polyethylene (PE)?

Also known as polythene or polyethene, it is a type of plastic raw material made by the process of addition or radical polymerization of ethylene. It can be modified to have the elastic performance of rubber or can also be spun into fibres. It is a thermoplastic material with high impact strength.

Physical Properties of Polyethylene

  • The rigidity and hardness of these polymers are relatively low.

  • It exhibits substantial creep when placed under a persistent force.

  • It is also known to be a very good insulator of electric current offering a high electrical resistance.

  • Polyethylenes usually have a waxy texture.

Types of Polyethylene

Polyethylene (PE) can be classified into several different types based on the density of the plastic and the degree of branching in its structure. Some important types of polyethylene are listed below:

  1. HDPE: Widely used in many applications such as plastic pipes. By 2027, the global HDPE market is expected to reach US$97.4 billion with a CAGR of 4.65%. HDPE resin has many advantages such as sustainability, durability, flexibility, and food safety. There are also disadvantages such as B. Bonding difficulties, susceptibility to stress cracking, non-combustibility, and weather resistance.

  2. LDPE: Commonly used in many applications such as tubing. LDPE has more branches than HDPE. By 2026, the global LDPE market is expected to reach $69.56 billion at a CAGR of 10.5%. LDPE material has many advantages such as perfect electrical insulation, ease of moulding and processing, and waterproofing. On the downside, it is not good at crack stress. Not good when exposed to cold or hot temperatures. It is not UV resistant.

  3. LLDPE: It is commonly used in many applications such as stretch wraps. By 2028, the global LLDPE market is expected to reach US$ 4.826 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 3.3%. It has many advantages such as chemical resistance and crack resistance. Also, it is chemically and mechanically resistant. It is flexible and has excellent impact resistance. A disadvantage of LLDPE is that it is not as easy to process as LDPE. It is less heat sealable than LDPE.

  4. Ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) has better abrasion resistance than ordinary polyethylene. Other characteristics include:

  • Impact-resistant linear PE

  • Self-lubricating

  • It has perfect mechanical properties

  • The secret behind these properties is the much higher molecular weight

Uses of Polyethylene

  • The most important use of polyethylene is product packaging. This plastic is widely used to make plastic bags, films, bottles, geomembranes, and containers.

  • Polyethylene is also used in milk and fruit juice boxes, trays, jugs, and other food packaging products.

  • High-density polyethylene is used in toys, trash cans, ice cream containers, and other household items. The versatility of this plastic makes it ideal for a wide range of applications.

  • HDPE is also used in ropes, fishing, agricultural, and industrial textiles. It is not uncommon for this plastic to be used for lines and cables.

  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is widely used in the production of squeeze bottles, bottle liners, laminates, and food packaging due to its flexibility and low cost.

  • It is also used in pipes and fittings. Its low water absorption and plasticity make it ideal for such applications.

  • Polyethylene is also used in cable sheaths as it is a good insulator for electrical currents.


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