Polyethylene (PE) Coated paper is one of the most typically used food packaging materials globally. Pe film is a chemically manufactured product with a partially crystalline structure and a lightweight thermoplastic polymer. Paper products with pe film coating are waterproof and sturdy
Over seven million tons of polyethylene-coated paper products are manufactured every year, making PE the most used coating agent for paper packaging.
The popularity of PE comes from its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, which is hard to match with other materials.
So, let’s look at what poly-coated paper is and understand why it is the most popular paper coating solution globally.
As the name suggests, PE coating paper is a paper roll coated with polyethylene to make the paper water and grease-resistant.
The coating substance (PE film) is heated up and made into a thin film no more than 0.04cm thick. The hot film is then pressed onto the surface of the paper board to create a layer. This process will make a tricky coating hard to strip off the paper.
So the resulting polyethylene-coated paper is water-resistant and sturdier, making it perfect for manufacturing all types of food packaging.
Polyethylene is made from sources that come from natural gas and crude oil. The process involves creating multiple reactions of ethylene molecules in the presence of a catalyst.
This reaction breaks the double bond of the molecules and helps the carbon atom connect to the chain. The length of the chain defines the molecular weight of the resulting material.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Low-density polyethylene or LDPE is widely used for paper coating disposable cups and containers. The process for manufacturing LDPE involves compressing monomer ethylene gas under high pressure to create LDPE using the free radical polymerization process
The thickness of PE coating paper is calculated in grams per square meter. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper due to its thickness.
Generally, the quantitative thickness of PE coating used on paper is 10-20 GSM.
However, the required thickness of PE coating changes according to various requirements.
Some common examples that can help you choose the correct quantitative thickness of PE coating appropriate for your purposes are mentioned below:
As mentioned earlier in this article, different paper applications require a different thickness of PE coating to be effective.
Following that same point, you need to put a different thickness of PE coating on various paper types as well. Some examples are mentioned below.
PE coating is available in two forms mainly, matte and glossy. These finishes are used for different purposes, and they are distinct in terms of their appearance.
Matte Finish Treatment
Matte PE film is used for making high-quality product packaging labels that have impeccable sharpness and uniformity for the print on top of it.
Whether it is for printing labels of cold drinks or grocery items, matte PE film can be used to create visually attractive labels that are vibrant.
Matte PE film has a non-reflective surface, which allows the labels to be very easy-to-read and detect even in the middle of other products.
Glossy Finish Treatment
Glossy PE film is used for making various types of packaging products, mainly products like PE-coated paper cups.
It provides excellent water and moisture protection, making the cups very effective.
Apart from food packaging, glossy PE film is also used for making bright and shiny packaging that can draw the attention of onlookers and help products stand out.
Single Side PE Coated Paper
Single side PE coated paper has plastic coating on paper only on one side. It is used for making disposable food packaging containers.
The insides of the container are coated with PE to make the container water and moisture-resistant and sturdy and resistant to tearing.
However, the PE-coated side is also not great for printing branding information, which is also why customers choose double pe coating if they have a great demand on printing quality
Double Side PE Coated Paper
Double-sided PE coated paper is mainly used for disposable cold food packaging, namely ice cream cups. Just like single side, PE coated paper; the insides are coated to make the paper water and moisture resistant.
However, the outer layer needs to be covered with pe film in the paper container used to serve cold drinks.
Double pe coating is done to ensure that the cup does not crumble upon the condensation of atmospheric moisture on the cup when cold drinks are served in it.
In addition, the double coating makes the packaging products very sturdy and maintains their shape even when used to serve cold food or beverages.
PE coating paper is used for manufacturing various types of food packaging items. So, here are some examples of things that are manufactured using PE coating paper.
Good Water Resistance
PE coated or PE laminated paper is most commonly used for making the paper water-resistant. PE coating on any paper surface is almost 100% waterproof, making it one of the best coating solutions for paper.
Moderate MVTR Permeability
MVTR or moisture vapor transfer rate is the property that tells how good your packaging material is at keeping dry products dry and moist products moist against environmental differences.
Any good packaging material is expected to keep the products in their original state, whether dry or wet, regardless of environmental conditions.
PE coating achieves intermediate results in this case as it provides average to good MVTR permeability.
Good Grease/Oil Resistance
When you pack your favorite fries at a restaurant, the PE-coated packaging will ensure that your hands remain oil and grease-free.
The PE coating does not let the oil or grease permeate through the paper packaging and keeps the outer surface of the packaging dry and oil-free.
Good Heat-seal Ability
One of the best features of PE coating paper is that it can be sealed shut using heat.
Since the paper packaging is lined with plastic, the heat sealing machine can remelt the plastic and seal the package shut.
This will help you keep the contents inside the paper package hot or cold as they were meant to be.
Relative Chemical Inertness
Even though PE is a chemical product, it is relatively inert to other chemicals and materials.
This makes PE coating paper very easy to use in different industries. Chemical inertness is one of the contributing factors to the versatility of PE coating
Paper by itself is flexible to a certain extent, but it tends to tear if you crease, groove, and fold it repeatedly.
That lack of sturdiness can be fixed when the paper is coated with polyethylene.
PE coating by itself is very stretchable and flexible. When force is applied to polyethylene, it stretches instead of breaking.
So, paper coated with PE also gains the good properties of polyethylene, making the product very flexible and sturdy
PE coating paper makes it easier to print high-quality branding information on your packaging using offset printing.
Highly Permeable To Oxygen Gases
Oxygen may be the giver of life, but oxygen promotes bacteria and other microorganism growth that will spoil any food or other items inside the packaging when it comes to packaging.
PE coating is limited in this department because it is highly permeable to oxygen gases, making it not a suitable packaging material with a long-term shelf life.
Poor Odor Barrier
PE coating is not great for keeping the odor of the content inside the packaging. The leakage in smell is one of the disadvantages of using PE coating paper in some instances
Recycling Requires Hydro Pulping
PE coating attaches very firmly to the paper. That makes it harder to separate the two when recycling paper.
So, a particular hydro pulping machine is required to remove the PE coating from the paper at the recycling plant.
This leads to the recycling process taking longer and becoming slightly more expensive.
PE Is Not Readily Biodegradable
Is PE-coated paper biodegradable?
It is not readily biodegradable as the PE coating needs to be removed from the paper before the paper can be made biodegradable or recycled.
So, that also answers the question, is PE coated paper recyclable or not.
Is PE Coating Paper Safe for Food Contact?
Yes, PE coating paper is safe for food contact. Since PE is chemically inert, it does not react with any food, nor does it change the flavor or odor of the food in any way.
PE coated paper has also been tested scientifically and proven to be one of the safest plastics out there for storing food. The test results ensured PE is almost completely benign on a test to define the hazardous effects of various plastic types.
Is PE Coated Paper Biodegradable?
No, PE coated paper is not biodegradable. It can be recycled, but that is a long and slightly expensive process compared to other products.
However, new coating solutions have been developed, such as PLA liner and water-based barrier coating, which are 100% biodegradable and sourced naturally instead of being sourced from crude oil and natural gas.
Is PE Coating Paper Microwavable?
No, PE coating paper is not microwavable because PE has a low-temperature resistance performance of around 80-100 Centigrade.
If that temperature barrier is reached or crossed, PE can expel poisonous substances such as PFAs. So, that’s why most PE-coated paper products are not microwavable.
So, that is all the information you need to know about PE coating paper to prove why it is the industry leader in paper coating.
Sure, PE has its disadvantages and problems regarding biodegradability, but it is still one of the most cost-effective paper coating solutions available on the market.
It also has a tried and tested track record of providing excellent paper coating service. So, if you are interested and wondering about PE-coated paper price, you should know that it will be less than the most equally effective paper coating solutions in the market.
YANXIYAN is a 10 years foodservice packaging expert. If you are looking for a professional packaging solution and advice, Just message us.
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