PET & rPET Plastic, Defined
rPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or recycled PET. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) itself is a polymer used to widely manufacture affordable, durable and recyclable containers and packaging as well as a form of polyester. PET containers are identified by a #1 code on the bottom. By converting post consumer waste into a valuable resource, rPET excels in the sustainability compartment compared to virgin PET bottles.
The use of rPET plastic is on the rise as a result of its low carbon footprint (saving raw materials by requiring less energy), recyclability (reducing waste), and strong environmental credentials. As more and more brands continue to adopt the use of rPET, we are setting a standard where rPET is routinely used instead of regular PET bottles.
Life after the recycling bin
When PET packaging is recycled/discarded by the consumer, it becomes PET waste. The PET waste then makes it way to a material recovery facility (MRF) where it is sorted from other materials, baled, and sent to specific PET recycling facilities. At these new facilities, each bottle is washed and contaminants are removed. The bottles then get sorted according to color and are ground into flakes or made into pellets. These flakes and pellets are then sold as raw material that can be used for a range of polyester products (clothing, carpets, insulation, etc) or made back into PET bottles that can be recycled again and again.
The advantages of rPET
In the closed loop, bottle to bottle system described above, recycled polymers directly replace virgin polymers to create several major advantages in the realm of energy, greenhouse gas emissions and cost.
- The process of converting rPET to a virgin equivalent requires much less energy than glass, aluminum, or other materials. Although PET's feedstocks are derived from crude oil and natural gas, approximately 40% of that energy is trapped within the PET polymer for recapture and reuse every time PET is recycled. This means rPET leads to a greater conservation of raw materials and a reduction in green house gas emissions by 65%
- Since PET is lightweight and more compact, it allows for more product to be delivered with less packaging, less weight and less fuel for transport, and with less trucks on the road.
- It takes 27 pounds of glass versus 2 pounds of plastic to deliver 1,000 ounces of a beverage.
- rPEt plastic means a reduction in breakage and damaged goods compared to glass packaging.
- PET virgin bottle resin pellets between 83 and 85 cents a pound, compared to only 58 to 66 cents a pound for rPET pellets.
The reality is that 100% of all PET products can be made from rPET. In addition to all the advantages of rPET plastic, consumers are actively looking
for companies that are committed to sustainability, recycling and the overall green agenda. As such, manufacturers should be focused on improving their standing by using rPET as much as possible, right? In reality, many major companies are still creating virgin PET plastic to manufacture their bottles.
Last but not least, the closed loop cycle of rPET relies on the consumer to recycle. It only works if this neccessary step takes place, so please, always recycle!
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