Common Plastics used in Correctional Foodservice

Cook's Plastic 6-Compartment Tray

Cook’s Brand Plastic Tray

Plastics are used in a wide variety of products that are in your kitchen in almost every category.  In meal serving products you’ll find plastic insulated trays, cafeteria trays, tumblers and more.  In your storage and transport items there are plastic food storage containers, ingredient bins, beverage servers and more.  You’ll even find plastic in your janitorial products like trash cans.  But just as different as all these foodservice equipment and supplies items are from one another, so is the plastics used to make them.  Here’s a quick guide to the different plastics used in corrections:

  • Co-polymer– Co-polymer plastic is typically a blend of polypropylene and polyethylene. There are many different blends that have unique characteristics. Co-polymer has a reputation for being fairly flexible, super durable and inexpensive.
  • Polycarbonate– Polycarbonate is one of the strongest plastics available. If molded without any color, it is extremely clear and typically used for tumblers. Polycarbonate tends to be expensive material and has been replaced by co-polymer in corrections.
  • TPE– Thermoplastic elastomer is a very soft plastic that can be used like co-polymer or polycarbonate. TPE feels a little like rubber and is extremely bendable and flexible creating a safer work environment in corrections.
  • Silicone– While silicone is not plastic, many products in corrections are made from silicone. The most expensive of all the raw material, silicone offers some unique characteristics that many plastics don’t. It has a very wide temperature rating, NSF approved and, of course, is super flexible.

    Jeff Breeden, CEO Cook's

    Jeff Breeden

If you have a question about which material is best for the application specific to your jail or prison kitchen and your available options, you can contact your sales representative or our customer service team at 1-800-956-5571 and we can help you make the best choice.

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