“Clamshell” packaging refers to two molded plastic halves joined together by a hinge. All clamshell packaging is clear to allow maximum visibility of the product being purchased. Clamshell packaging received its name because it resembles a clam shell. In the recycling industry, clamshell packaging is also called “Thermoforms” and its name comes from the way that it’s made.

Thermoforming is a molding technique that results in a variety of highly usable plastic products. While thermoforming can apply to a variety of different plastics, we most often come across it in the form of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is labeled as #1 plastic. This is the tricky part:

Even though they are labeled as #1 plastic, they still may not be readily recycled in your local municipality and can lead to contamination of recyclable materials.

Examples: salad containers, rigid fruit/berry containers, salad boxes, bakery containers, etc.