LDPE and LLDPE have unique rheological or melt flow properties. LLDPE is less shear sensitive because of its narrower molecular weight distribution and shorter chain branching. During a shearing process, such as extrusion, LLDPE remains more viscous and, therefore, harder to process than an LDPE of equivalent melt index. The lower shear sensitivity of LLDPE allows for a faster stress relaxation of the polymer chains during extrusion, and, therefore, the physical properties are susceptible to changes in blow-up ratios. In melt extension, LLDPE has lower viscosity at all strain rates. This means it will not strain harden the way LDPE does when elongated. As the deformation rate of the polyethylene increases, LDPE demonstrates a dramatic rise in viscosity because of chain entanglement. This phenomenon is not observed with LLDPE because of the lack of long-chain branching in LLDPE allows the chains to slide by one another upon elongation without becoming entangled.
This characteristic is important for film applications because LLDPE films can be downgauged easily while maintaining high strength and toughness. The rheological properties of LLDPE are summarized as “stiff in shear” and “soft in extension”. It is not taken in most curbside pickups in communities. LLDPE can be recycled though into other things like trash can liners, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tiles, compost bins, and shipping envelopes
HDPE is preferred by the pyrotechnics trade for mortars over steel or PVC tubes, being more durable and safer. HDPE tends to rip or tear in a malfunction instead of shattering and becoming shrapnel like the other materials.
Milk jugs and other hollow goods manufactured through blow molding are the most important application area for HDPE, accounting for one-third of worldwide production, or more than 8 million tons. There is some evidence that this form of recycling is less energy intensive than conventional recycling, which can involve a large embodied energy for transportation.