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Packaging Matters

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Why Packaging MattersTM

The Necessity of Packaging in Everyday Life Today

Packaging Matters™ in everyday life! It extends the shelf life of your favorite drinks and foods while informing you of ingredients and expiration dates. It helps keep food safe from contamination and furthers hygiene to help keep consumers healthy. Packaging gives instant brand recognition and draws consumers to make product purchases. It allows for efficient transport of products across the world.

Since ancient times, primitive packaging from nature was used to share, exchange and transport goods. Much has changed in packaging over time and now Packaging Matters™ in our day-to-day lives.

When Did Packaging Begin?

The packaging we know and see today on store shelves didn’t develop overnight. Instead, it has been a progression over time. The most common packaging materials to emerge over time have been glass, metal, paper and plastic.

While primitive packaging dates back to ancient times, packaging transformed significantly over the last 200 years beginning with the Industrial Revolution and spanning to the sustainable packaging of today.

The Progression of Packaging Over Time

Primitive Packaging

Packaging Matters!™ It has been an essential part of life since ancient days to protect, store and transport items. The earliest materials used for primitive packaging were simple things from nature such as leaves, animal skins, nuts and wood. For at least 5,000 years materials such as glass, wood and clay have served as packaging.

The Industrial Revolution Creates a Shift in Packaging

Packaging evolved gradually over time but was greatly redefined during the Industrial Revolution as millions of people migrated from small town living to industrial lifestyles in urban settings. The introduction of machinery resulted in more efficient and durable packaging methods while increasing city populations led to higher volume production of smaller, individual packaging. During this time, the availability of consumer goods products increased as trade thrived.

The Great Depression Era Introduces the Supermarket

The introduction of the supermarket in the 1930s during The Great Depression changed the shopping experience for the American consumer. Consumers experienced the shift from shopping at small, independently owned shops to large supermarkets. Here, packaging sold the product to the consumer with branding and advertising rather than reliance on a salesman.

Mid to Late Twentieth Century

Consumers enjoyed newfound convenience of packaging such as aluminum, foil and plastics after World War II. Plastics steadily overtook paper products as the leading packaging material. As competition boomed in the later half of the century with the rise of global businesses, packaging became the way to stand out and gain customer loyalty. The packaging industry had always operated in support of the environment decade after decade, evolving with innovation and more sustainable packaging. Working together for a more sustainable world, consumers connected with packaging sustainability in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to today’s sustainability-focused packaging.

The Sustainable Packaging of Today

Today, packaging is useful in our everyday lives. Thanks to advanced technology in the plastic packaging industry, there are now many innovations supporting practical, sustainable packaging. For many years PET and HDPE plastic packaging has not only been lightweight, versatile and functional, but also recyclable for a circular packaging economy. Packaging is continually influenced by social media and technology, bringing people together to recycle better. Plastipak’s Recycling Counts™ is a website that shares initiatives to continually educate consumers about recycling.

A Brief History of Packaging Timeline


    Leaves, animal skins, nut shells and wood are used as primitive packaging

  • 1200 B.C. TO 1200 A.D.

    Introduction of glass containers in 1200 B.C. and tin packaging in 1200 A.D.

  • 1760 — 1850

    The Industrial Revolution: New machinery yields high volumes of individual packaging

  • 1800s

    First man-made plastic derived from cellulose in 1862

  • 1929 — 1939

    The Great Depression: Introduction of supermarkets pushes branding and advertising

  • 1960s

    Polyethylene becomes a preferred packaging material

  • 1967

    Plastic package pioneering begins with the foundation of Plastipak

  • 1970s

    Introduction of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles

  • 1980 — 2000

    Consumers connect with packaging sustainability


    Development of sustainable packaging materials and recycling solutions minimize packaging waste

The World of Plastipak

Founded in 1967, Plastipak started out providing innovative, plastic packaging to deliver water for the Young family’s water delivery company in Michigan. After more than 50 years of rapid growth, market-changing innovation, awarded achievements and ongoing sustainability initiatives, Plastipak is now a global leader in the rigid plastic packaging and recycling industries with more than 60 sites located in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Utilizing innovative technology and incorporating sustainability in all operations, Plastipak maximizes the limitless use of plastics as a packaging material. Lightweight bottle designs reduce material consumption in packaging development. After use, plastic packaging is recycled at Clean Tech, Plastipak’s recycling company, to turn the used plastics into resin to manufacture new packaging in a bottle to bottle recycling approach.

Packaging Matters™ as Plastipak’s sustainability-focused technologies maximize the reusability of plastics in each step of the life cycle of PET and HDPE plastic packaging. From recyclability to environmentally-friendly printing options and lightweight packaging, Plastipak’s technologies yield sustainable packaging solutions as part of our commitment to sustainability.

Plastipak partners with packaging and recycling associations around the world to fulfill its commitment to creating sustainable packaging and recycling solutions. Plastipak created Recycling Counts™, an online global community that educates, promotes, and supports recycling within communities. It’s Recycling Worth Repeating!™

Plastipak owns and operates four global Clean Tech recycling centers which recycle used plastic bottles into resin for the manufacture of new bottles. This bottle to bottle recycling approach is Recycling Worth Repeating!™

Founded in 1967, Putting Consumers First, Always!™

6,000+ Engaged Associates Worldwide

More Than 60 Global Sites

Securing Intellectual Property Through Patents

Award-Winning Training
for Associates

Making On-Time Deliveries
with Over 1,200 Trailers

Create Together

Four Global
Recycling Centers

PET Resin

More Than
50 Years of Innovation

To learn more about Plastipak and career opportunities, visit our company website.

Plastipak’s Sustainable Packaging

Doing Our Part with Sustainable Packaging

Plastipak is committed to sustainable packaging from design and development to recycling. We achieve sustainability goals by producing products with reduced container weight, carbon footprint savings, lower energy costs and recyclability. Packaging options produced with post-consumer recycled PET resin (PET PCR or rPET) and HDPE resin (HDPE PCR or rHDPE) allow for the sustainability that customers seek to lower the carbon footprint in packaging.

Sustainability-Focused Technologies

Plastipak’s sustainability-focused technologies maximize the reusability of plastics in each life cycle step of PET and HDPE plastic packaging. From recyclability to environmentally-friendly printing options and lightweight packaging, Plastipak’s technologies yield sustainable packaging solutions as part of our commitment to sustainability.

Longstanding Commitment to Sustainability

Since inception, Plastipak has proactively made sustainability a priority in PET and HDPE plastic packaging. From global recycling centers to green building standards and workplace initiatives, Plastipak incorporates sustainability into all operations.

Plastipak categorizes its sustainability improvements into three distinct groups:

To learn more about Plastipak’s commitment to sustainability, please visit our company website.

Recycling Solutions at Clean Tech

Recycling for Sustainable Packaging

Plastipak’s global recycling centers reclaim plastic products to produce high-quality PET and HDPE post-consumer recycled materials (PET PCR or rPET and HDPE PCR or rHDPE) in our effort to supply sustainable packaging options to our customers. In North America, Clean Tech is one of the top plastic recyclers in the US. In Europe, Plastipak is the largest producer of food-grade rPET, with capacity to produce over 300 million pounds (136 thousand tonnes) of food-grade rPET (PET PCR) material annually.

Bottle to Bottle Recycling

Plastipak’s recycling company, Clean Tech, recycles millions of pounds of plastic containers annually at its four global recycling centers. The recycled plastics are used to make post-consumer recycled PET resin (PET PCR or rPET), which is used to manufacture new packaging. Waste is eliminated as plastics are reused again and again in a bottle to bottle recycling approach.

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More than Thirty Years of Sustainability

For more than 30 years, Plastipak’s recycling company, Clean Tech, has proactively made sustainability a priority in PET and HDPE plastic packaging. Through Clean Tech, used plastic bottles are recycled and turned into resin to make new bottles. This bottle to bottle recycling approach creates a sustainable life cycle for plastic packaging and waste is eliminated as the plastics are reused again and again. Plastipak maximizes the limitless use of plastic as a packaging material in everyday life.


For more information about Clean Tech in the US and in Europe, please visit our websites.

A Brief History of Plastipak Timeline

  • 1967

    Plastipak is founded by the Young family to provide plastic packaging for the family’s water delivery company

  • 1970s

    Plastipak produces its first PET bottle for a major customer

  • 1989

    Clean Tech is established as a plastics recycling center in Michigan

  • 1997

    Plastipak goes international with expansion into South America

  • 1998

    Plastipak develops 30 station G.E.M. PAK extrusion wheel systems

  • 2004

    Plastipak furthers its global presence with expansion into Europe

  • 2011

    Major expansion of the Clean Tech recycling center in Dundee, Michigan

  • 2015

    Plastipak pushes its geographic boundaries with expansion into China

  • 2017

    Plastipak celebrates its 50-year anniversary


    Plastipak is a global leader in packaging innovation and recycling solutions

For an interactive experience of Plastipak’s history, please visit our company website.

Plastipak’s Awards and Certifications

  • 1989

    DuPont Environmental Award for a container made from 100% post-consumer recycled PET resin (PET PCR or rPET)

  • 1992

    DuPont Environmental Award for a Kraft dressing bottle made with 25% post-consumer recycled resin (PCR PET or rPET)

  • 2009

    LEED certification for Plastipak’s Victorville, California site

  • 2014

    DuPont Gold Award for Technological Advancement and Responsible Packaging for Direct Object Printing

  • 2014

    Honorable Mention as a Detroit Free Press Michigan Green Leader

  • 2015

    Best of Show Award in the PAC Gold Sustainable Packaging Category for Plastipak’s EPET Simply Orange bottle

  • 2017

    Sustainability Merit of Honor from Jussara in Project ReCiclo for Plastipak Brazil

  • 2018

    Certified Green Business status for Plastipak’s Jackson Center, Ohio site

  • 2019

    NRA (National Recycling Awards) Recycling Facility of the Year Award for Clean Tech’s Hemswell, UK site

  • 2019

    Best Environmental or Energy Efficiency Initiative of the Year at the Plastics Industry Awards

  • 2019

    Best Business Initiative of the Year at the Plastics Industry Awards

For a full listing of Plastipak’s awards, please visit our company website.

Plastipak’s Sustainable Technologies

  • PET, HDPE and Preform Technologies

    Yielding lightweight, durable plastic packaging

  • Direct Object Printing

    Printing directly on the bottle with eco-friendly ink while eliminating label substrates

  • ThermoShape™

    A best-in-class hot fill solution with decreased container weight

  • EPET

    Offering clear or colored packaging utilizing extrusion molding

  • Lightweight Neck Finishes

    Fulfilling sustainability goals by reducing overall material consumption

  • Post-Consumer Recycled Resin Making

    Manufacturing post-consumer recycled resin for environmentally-friendly packaging

  • ThermaLite™

    Offering 85% lighter weight for jars compared to glass alternatives

  • Aerosol Technology

    Lightweight PET aerosol containers with a low carbon footprint

For a full listing of Plastipak’s technologies, please visit our company website.