A polypropylene plastic container.
Polypropylene plastic is generally divided into three broad categories of use. This includes the automotive plastics industry, packaging plastics and all other uses combined. Global demand for polypropylene-based products is second only to polyethylene, and as of 2009, 36,500,000 tons of plastic were produced annually. Most of this, 54%, went to the packaging industry, and the next biggest demand for global polypropylene supplies was in automotive assembly, accounting for 15.6% of the total volume produced. Asian countries lead the consumption of 51.9% of the polypropylene plastic produced in 2009, and China and India in particular are seen as the main global drivers of growth.
The low weight and good mechanical properties of polypropylene plastic make it an ideal material for automotive construction. It reduces the total weight of cars where it is replaced by other interior materials in dashboards, door panels and damping. As polypropylene plastic has good corrosion and weather resistance, it is also used for exterior moldings and bumpers, and it can be pre-colored so that part of the car paint job is eliminated.
Polypropylene plastic is used in some fishing nets.
Plastics are widely adopted when they have versatile uses, and polypropylene plastic expands by being manufactured in three different specification ranges. Homopolymers are general-purpose types of plastic used in fishing nets, polypropylene carpeting, furniture, and more. Block copolymers are versions of the plastic with improved impact and temperature resistance and are used for polypropylene ropes, artificial grass and medical devices. Random copolymers have more flexibility and a lower melting point and are used in polypropylene fabrics, upholstery and bedding.
Polypropylene plastic is widely used to make plastic bottles for milk, soda and other beverages.
The use of polypropylene plastic by the packaging industry is divided into flexible and rigid packaging. Polypropylene bags and films use flexible designs from the plastic used in three main packaging industries: food and apparel, tobacco and textiles. The food packaging industry dominates the consumption of flexible polypropylene. Rigid polypropylene is used in the manufacture of food boxes and pallets as well as bottles for a wide range of uses and food containers for yogurt.
Among the thousands of other uses for polypropylene in the consumer market, the plastic is incorporated into housewares, appliances and toys. It’s turned into everything from diapers to lawn and garden equipment and luggage. Despite its versatile uses, however, over 70% of the polypropylene plastic produced for packaging goes into food products.