WHAT IS PET?
PET (also known as polyethylene terephthalate) is a high quality plastic material used in many applications.
In its Fiber Form, called Polyester, PET is used to make anything from carpets to clothing. In its plastic form, called PET, it is used to make all types of different containers. It is the #1 recycled plastic and is used in almost all industries.
In the packaging world, PET is used to manufacture packaging for fruits, vegetables, and nuts - cakes, pies, and other bakery items - deli items - candy - and a variety of beverages, as well as a variety of non-food items.
As technology advances, the potential usage of PET significantly expands and now there are many every day products out there that utilize PET.
PET IS THE #1 MOST RECYCLABLE PLASTIC
Sustainability has become an extremely important focus in the world today. Recycling is one of the most sustainable activities. It takes one discarded item, and creates another, all while saving energy, landfill space, and natural resources.
One of the biggest benefits of PET is its 100% recyclability.
Recycling PET will help decrease the amount of plastic that enters landfills or the Ocean. PET takes thousands of years to break down, which takes up landfill space, and can also contaminate groundwater sources.
Recycled PET, also known as rPET, is much more environmentally friendly. rPET is also used to produce items such as textiles, carpeting, fibers, as well as other plastic packaging. It is the main raw material used in Pinnpack’s Packaging.
"Post-Consumer" vs "Recycled (aka Post-Industrial)"
It is important to understand that there is a difference between "post-consumer" PET and "recycled" PET. Post-consumer refers to plastic that has been used and discarded by the end user. This is truly being recycled, however, recycled PET can also refer to what is considered post-industrial plastic. Post-industrial plastic is plastic saved from the process and not the end product and is not contributing to benefitting the environment.
PET vs. rPET
There is a common misconception that recycled products somehow lose some functionality or integrity. However, with PET and our process at CarbonLITE, this is far from the case!
An important property of PET and rPET is called Instrinsic Viscosity (IV). IV is the measure of the polymers molecular weight, in other words, it measures how strong and functional the PET/rPET is. The higher the IV the higher the melting point, freezing point, and tensile strength. For most of the packaging world, a High IV is ideal.
Through the CarbonLITE Process, we are able to increase the IV of rPET to equal and even surpass the IV of Virgin PET, making rPET have the same or better performance characteristics. rPET creation also has a significantly smaller Carbon Footprint than Virgin PET creation.
How do you know that you are using a product made from rPET?
Right now, the only real indicator between something made with PET vs. rPET is the color. In the sterilization process when making rPET, the impurities that are burned off and removed leave behind a slight hue, giving rPET Plastic Material a slightly tinted color when compared to Virgin PET, which is often crystal clear.
Image 1: rPET PCR (Recycled PET Post Consumer Resin)
Image 2: PET Virgin Resin
So, if you see a package in the store thats slightly tinted, there is a chance that it is made from POST-CONSUMER recycled material!
FACTS ABOUT rPET
Producing 1 Pound of rPET takes 79% less energy than producing 1 Pound of Virgin PET
Using rPET reduces Green House Gas emissions by 71% when compared to using Virgin PET.
The Carbon Footprint of rPET plastic is 0.45kg of CO2 per kg of plastic, while the The Carbon Footprint of Virgin PET plastic is 2.15kg of CO2 per kg of plastic.
Figure 1: This figure shows the amount of CO2 produced from different plastic materials. rPET, also known as PCR PET, produces the least amount of CO2
PLASTIC IS A VALUABLE RESOURCE
What can we make with recycled plastic (rPET)?
Today, plastic can be used to make a number of different every day items. The increased creation of recycled plastic material also means that a lot of companies are implementing more recycled plastic into their products. Specifically, plastic water bottles have become a source for many products. Here are some products that are created using recycled plastic from water bottles and the companies making it possible!
Every Day Items and the Bottles it Takes to Make Them
Plastics are identified using a Resin Identification Code. That code ranges between 1-7, depending on the type of plastic. #1 Plastic (PET) is the most recyclable type of plastic, while "other" #7 plastics such as PLA are the least recyclable. To combat plastic pollution, understanding the types of plastics and their recyclability is really important. The table below explains what types of products are made with each type of plastic and how it is currently recycled, or not recycled.
NOT ALL PLASTICS ARE CREATED EQUAL!