Plastic packaging material describes a wide array of different polymer based packaging materials. Typical materials are polyethylene (PE), High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS) and poly carbonate (PC). The type of material used depends on the final application, which may be bottles, containers, films or coatings. In order to produce these structures monomers are polymerized through addition or condensation polymerization processes.

In the final product various different polymer materials may be combined, e.g. a bottle made from PET with a screw top made from PVC. To make the final product sturdy, heat and shock resistant various substances may be added, such as UV filters, plasticisers and colorants. These additives may also have functions in protecting the quality of the food contained in the plastic packaging.

The EU has legislated plastic food packaging materials in various regulations, most prominently the Framework Regulation EC 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food and the Commission Regulation EC 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. Further, EU regulation EC 1895/2005 restricts the use of certain epoxy derivatives from the use as resins. Additives added to polymer materials intended to come into contact with food need to authorized by EFSA and are available on the Union’s list of substances to be used in plastic food contact materials .