PET Recycling

PET Recycling / What is PET?

Polyethylene terephthalate or as it is more commonly known PET or PETE is a polymer resin that is part of the polyester family.

pet recycling

It has a wide range of uses including synthetic fibers, food, beverage and other liquid containers. Over 60 percent of global production of PET is used in the manufacture of synthetic fibers. Bottle production accounts for about 30 percent of the PET produced.

PET is simply referred to as polyester when it is used in textile applications. The name PET or PETE is used mainly in packaging applications.

The most common uses of PET as a packaging material is its use as a raw material for bottles and other containers of consumer goods.

Some of these are used in bottles for soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, edible oils, pharmaceuticals, and detergents. PET is one of the most common plastics being used by consumers.

PET Recycling / Who first produced the PET Bottle?

The bottle that everyone is familiar with today started out as American Patent No. 3733309 and was published in 1973. This invention is usually credited to Nathaniel Wyeth of Du Pont.

This patent was for the machinery for making “biaxially oriented” bottles. The material to be used was Polyethylene terephthalate. This material was based on Polyester, the material for fiber that was also used in textiles.

The first result was a “terrible-looking bottle” and Wyeth was even pleased that it was at least hollow. The first offers by DuPont to have other companies manufacture the bottle under license was refused by packaging giants Owens-Illinois and Continental Can.

The major advantage of PET was that it did not contaminate the contents. Another was lightweight and strength. The material was resistant to breaking unlike glass.

The main problem was recycling. PET is inert and takes an extremely long time to degrade. The empty cylinders would also take an enormous amount of space in landfills if they were not crushed.  The first attempt at recycling goes back to 1977. Today PET bottles which are usually clear or green colored have the identification number 1 on the bottom which makes them easier to identify in the recycling stream.
PET Recycling / How does recycling PET work?

The PET package is simply discarded by the consumer and becomes part of the waste stream as post consumer waste. In the recycling industry this is known as post consumer PET. Some local governments and private agencies collect PET separately from other household waste.

Most thermoplastics can be recycled and PET is no exception. PET bottle recycling is also more practical and more easily executed because they are more easily identifiable in the recycle stream since most soft drink and water bottles are made exclusively of PET. PET has the resin identification number 1. One of the uses for recycled PET bottles is raw material for polyester fiber.

The sorted bottles are first broken down into small flakes and compressed into bales which are easier to transport and are then used to make new bottles or other products such as textile fibers. A new patent application claims that making the flakes very small. These small flakes have superior processing properties for the production of new plastic articles.

PET is easily recycled and since there is an abundance post consumer PET in bottle form it is becoming a preferred source of material in the production of carpet fiber.

PET Recycling / Sources

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