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PET: Why It’s Europe’s Main Recycled Plastic Material

Polyethylene Terephthalate, commonly known as PET stands out not just for its versatility and efficiency but also for its recyclability. In Europe, PET’s reputation as the most recycled plastic material is well-earned. But what’s behind this? Let’s dive into PET and uncover the reasons behind its recycling prominence.

 

1. The Chemical Structure of PET

PET is a member of the polyester family and is produced through the polymerisation of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. This results in a plastic that has both rigidity and flexibility. Its molecular structure gives PET high resilience, making it perfect for a variety of applications – from textile fibres to common household containers.

2. Durability and Stability

A significant benefit of PET is its durability. PET retains its structure, ensuring that products inside a PET container remain uncontaminated. Its glass-like clarity is an added bonus, allowing consumers to view the product within, which can be particularly useful in the food and beverage sector.

3. Energy-Efficient Recycling Process

The recycling process for PET is more energy-efficient compared to many other materials, due to its low melting temperature. When recycled, PET can be broken down into its original components, purified, and then repolymerised to produce new PET. This cycle can be repeated multiple times, which is a positive step in the journey toward circularity.

4. High Demand in the Marketplace

PET’s ability to be recycled into food-grade containers makes it highly sought after. As more brands pivot towards sustainable packaging solutions, the demand for Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) PET has grown. This creates an incentive for consumers to recycle PET products and for industries to invest in PET recycling infrastructure.

5. Europe’s Proactive Stance on Recycling

European nations have been particularly proactive in promoting recycling, with many countries implementing deposit-return schemes. These schemes incentivise consumers to return PET bottles, ensuring a steady stream of material flowing into the recycling system. The European Union’s commitment to a circular economy has further amplified the focus on PET recycling.

6. The Environmental Impact

Recycling PET has a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to producing virgin PET. Moreover, the use of PCR PET helps conserve non-renewable resources and reduces the amount of waste destined for landfills. By recycling PET, we make a substantial positive impact on the environment.

 

Explore our extensive range of PET packaging here

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BlueSky thinking, ‘Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) PET’

Why is PET a Good Packaging Material?