Importance PET recycling- October Update
We will soon be launching a brand new operation in Texas that will produce FDA-approved rPET sheets. This is an excellent opportunity to help address an important aspect of sustainability while furthering our commitment to a circular economy. Let’s take a greater look at what this means.
PET vs. rPET: What’s the Difference? Chances are, you may not be familiar with either PET or rPET. However, it is important to have a basic understanding of the two materials to learn about the importance of rPET. PET is an acronym for polyethylene terephthalate. While this probably sounds like something new to you, you likely know it by its common name: polyester. It’s a durable, lightweight material that has uses in many different things from clothing to plastic bottles. rPET essentially stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate. In other words, it is recycled polyester from various sources. In fact, rPET can refer to any type of PET material that was generated from a recycled source. It tends to take the form of rPET sheets and rPET flakes. Problems with PET PET is highly used because of its properties, making it a great choice for diverse manufacturing uses. It is cheap, durable, and can be made into custom forms. Thus, you’ll find it in many products, particularly when it comes to packaging. However, despite its many uses, there are intrinsic problems with the use of PET, primarily relating to its disposal. While one of the reasons PET is used is its durability, this also serves as a problem when it gets tossed in the garbage. PET does not easily break down, meaning that it is a major contributor to landfill space and pollution. In fact, it takes roughly 450 years for PET to decompose. Another problem is that PET can be broken down into tiny pieces, frequently referred to as microplastics. Research is showing that microplastics are having a major impact on our world. They are a major source of ocean pollution and have also recently been found to be present in human bodies. Thus, disposal of PET is not a good option. Benefits of rPET Sheets A solution to the problems with disposing PET is recycling this material into rPET. Typically, PET is cleaned and shredded into small pellets. These are then crushed and melted, allowing them to be formed into rPET which can take the form of thread, rPET sheets, and rPET flakes. There are a number of benefits of rPET sheets. For example, the FDA has noted that recycling one pound of PET into rPET saves 12,000 BTUs. With each household generating roughly 42 pounds of PET each year, the impact of recycling this into rPET is clearly significant. Additionally, as a recycled product, rPET has a lower carbon footprint than PET. rPET sheets are ideal for packaging. They have been approved by the FDA to have contact with food products given their high degree of safety. They are made with tight tolerances, meaning they are ideal for packaging as well as thermoforming. They are just as rigid as PET, providing an excellent sustainable solution. Uses of rPET Sheets & Contribution to a Circular Economy
The characteristics of rPET sheets make them excellent for a wide variety of uses. The primary use of rPET sheets is in packaging. You can find them in many industries including these:
Food and beverage
Clothing and apparel
The process of converting PET into rPET is critical for further developing a circular economy. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a circular economy is based on three major principles: (1) Eliminating waste and pollution; (2) Circulating materials at their highest value; and (3) Regenerating nature. A circular economy has many benefits based on the fact that it allows materials to be reused multiple times for many purposes. First, it means that less resources need to be consumed in order to produce materials. Secondly, it means that products that take a long time to naturally break down (such as PET) are diverted from landfills. Finally, the decreased carbon footprint is useful for mitigating climate impacts. Working towards a circular economy helps preserve nature and the environment. Substances like rPET sheets, which maintain the qualities of PET, highlight how recycling can enhance a circular economy without a loss in the quality of materials.