An extremely versatile, flexible and cost-effective polymer, MDPE is used across a number of industries.

MDPE is also often referred to as black alkathene, a commercial name used for polyethylene when it was first introduced to the market in the 1930s.

MDPE, or medium-density polyethylene, is a polyethylene defined by a density range of 0.926-0.940 g/cm3.

A versatile polymer, it offers a number of advantages such as high chemical resistance, higher stress-cracking resistance, flexible and high tensile strength. Another identifying characteristic is that it is less translucent than LDPE.

MDPE also meets food-handling guidelines.

MDPE is commonly used in below-ground gas pipes and fittings, while in the UK it is also used for water and waste water plumbing. In this instance, black or blue MDPE is used. The material is being widely used to replace copper and lead piping that has previously been laid.

In some parts of the world the colour of the pipe will determine its use, for instance:

> Yellow MDPE is used in gas distribution networks below ground

> Blue MDPE is used for drinking water supply pipes below ground

> Black MDPE is used for the distribution of water above ground

> Blue/Brown MDPE pipes are used to remove pollutants into drinking water by a multi-layer system within the pipe. These pipes are used in construction areas, landfills, river crossings military land.

> Black/Orange MDPE pipes are used to transport sewage water from mains pumps or industrial water.

MDPE is suited to this use because it offers a good chemical resistance, therefore will not corrode or react to the variety of naturally occurring ground chemicals. MDPE does not support the growth of bacteria fungi or algae, ensuring water remains pure in the relevant systems.

It is also extremely robust, offering high-impact resistance, and can withstand the high-pressure required to delivered mains water.

MDPE plastic is also used in packaging for food and household items and is a popular choice for ‘squeezy’ bottles. Water tanks, kayaks and laundry tubs are other common uses for MDPE.

MDPE is recyclable.

It can be found under plastic recycling number ‘two’, where it is grouped with HDPE, or high-density polyethylene and LDPE.

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