Differences Between Labeling Plastic and Glass Containers

Differences Between Labeling Plastic and Glass Containers

If you’re planning to switch from plastic to glass containers, or vice versa, it’s important to understand the differences in labeling. Glass is becoming more popular than plastic, especially for companies hoping to offset their ecological impact—and it comes with its own labeling challenges.

Here’s what you need to know when considering a labeling system.

Plastic packaging

Plastic container packaging comes in five broad categories. All are semi-permeable, which means that gasses can pass through plastics over time. Polyethylene terephthalate is easy to recycle, and is commonly used in food storage containers, soda bottles and medicine bottles.

High-density polyethylene plastic is best for moisture protection or retention. It’s typically leak-proof and is often used for products like bleach, milk, motor oil and cosmetics.

If you’re packaging hot liquids or food products, polypropylene can be used for products like food storage containers, lab equipment, lunch boxes and more. Meanwhile, polystyrene is the basis of Styrofoam and can be used for food trays.

Finally, polylactide is compostable because it’s biodegradable. These containers are typically used as “green” alternatives to other types of plastics—but they can not be recycled like petroleum-based plastics.

Glass packaging

Glass packaging generally falls into three main categories: borosilicate, treated soda-lime and soda-lime/soda-lime silica. Borosilicate is mixed with aluminum oxide, boric oxide and alkali or alkali oxide. This creates an extremely strong glass, which is often used in cookware as well as chemical or medicinal packaging.

Treated soda-lime glass is used for neutral or acidic products. Finally, soda-lime silica glass is often used in beverage bottles and mason jars. Tinting the soda-lime silica glass can protect contents from UV light, which is helpful for sensitive products like medication.

Glass bottle surfaces are all similar, unlike plastic bottles. Generally speaking, adhesives for glass bottles tend to work from one glass material to another.

Labeling challenges with plastic or glass

When determining what kind of packaging you’ll use, choosing between glass and plastic often depends on ecologically-friendly considerations versus how hard it is to label packages. Glass packaging tends to be more fragile, so your labeling system must be designed to minimize breakage. On the other hand, plastic bottles can deform under pressure, so you need a machine which uses the appropriate label application pressure for each product.

Plastic containers are also more inconsistently shaped than glass. If you plan to use plastic containers, you’ll need a labeling system that can safely apply labels and handle any surface inconsistencies. It’s also important that your system can handle different label and adhesive types, since different plastic products require different adhesives. Static electricity is also an issue with plastic containers, so you may need to add an eliminator or ionizer to your system.

Quadrel designs labeling systems to meet these challenges and more. When you’re ready to upgrade your product labeling line, reach out to our team today. We can help you choose the right labeling system for your needs.