From polythene packaging to the extraordinary – uses of polythene you may not realise existed

Hanmere Polythene has been at the forefront of innovative polythene packaging for over 50 years, but applications for this versatile material go way beyond the films, bags, sheets and sacks we use on a daily basis. In our latest blog, we look not only at the polythene packaging industry, but also at 3 of the plastic’s more surprising uses.

Facial surgery

In 2015, more than 50,000 people in the UK had plastic surgery, more than ever before.

Porous polyethylene implants are often used in facial surgery, for both cosmetic and reconstructive purposes.  Popular for chin, jaw and cheek surgery, the porosity of the material allows for optimum tissue regrowth around the implant, ultimately keeping it in place.

The implants can be carved or contoured to fit complex areas of the face, and are more successful at being incorporated than smooth implants like silicone rubber.  The latter has presented problems such as encapsulation i.e. the body’s own immune response causing rejection of the material.

Surgical technique involves the fixing in place of the polyethylene implant using titanium screws, followed by in-situ shaping by a skilled surgeon.

Road markings

With £4bn spent (in 2012-13) on maintaining England’s 187,000 miles of roads, it is vital to choose the most effective methods and materials.

Used to mark roads, car parks, sports pitches, and playgrounds, marking paint contains polyethylene additives.

Polyethylene wax is a low molecular weight polyethylene polymer used as an additive to hot melt road marking paint.   This addition allows for excellent adhesion properties along with enhanced durability and flexibility.

A truck mounted extrusion machine is used for the application of this paint on roads, and the material is heated to 200 degrees C before being laid down.  Glass beads are added at this stage while the coating is hot, and set as the plastic hardens.

Hula Hoops

PE tubing is the material of choice for the beginning hula-hoop enthusiast.  Modern hula hoops made from polyethylene have been around since 1958 – and prior to this they were made from stiff grasses and willow.

Polyethylene is thicker and heavier than some other tubing types, giving the user more control over the hoop due to the slower speed.

With the UK retaining its top spot in the toy industry throughout Europe in 2015, we can be proud to have an industry worth a staggering £3.2 billion.


Polythene is an essential ingredient within the packaging industry today.  The industry employs some 85,000 people in the UK – representing 3% of the UK’s manufacturing industry workforce – and has sales of over £11 Billion.

From our state of the art UK factory, Hanmere Polythene supplies bespoke polythene bags, sacks, and liners suitable for high risk food contact use to a wide cross-section of businesses throughout the United Kingdom and Mainland Europe.

To discuss your packaging requirements further, feel free to contact us on 01462 474777.