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What Is PET And Why Does It Matter?

Views: 1     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-12-04      Origin: Site

PET, or PolyEthylene Terephthalate, is used to package 70% of carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices, dilutable drinks and bottled water. Light, durable, safe and with a smaller carbon footprint than alternatives, PET is the most recyclable plastic in the world.


This unique material is vitally important as what our products are packaged with can have significant impacts for our environment and the sustainability of our economy.


Taking responsibility for our environment means taking a step back and considering the long view. Packaging performs a vital role in ensuring we can enjoy the things we love, when and where we want. But having this choice means we have to care about what our packaging is made from. We have to care about how that packaging performs. And, most importantly, we have to care about what happens when we’ve finished with it. That might seem like a lot to consider but don’t worry, when taking a whole life approach, the answer is clear – sustainable packaging means PET.


PET offers a number of advantages. It takes less energy to manufacture than alternatives. It’s also extremely light, strong and durable, meaning less packaging is needed to protect our products. Lighter packaging means that less fuel is needed for transportation, which lowers carbon emissions. In fact, PET bottles have been getting lighter and lighter, weighing 40% less than they did in the year 2000.

PolyEthylene Terephthalate

Almost uniquely among plastics, PET is near-infinitely recyclable and because it can be made into new products, this lowers the need for fresh PET to be made, further reducing emissions. In fact, recycled PET products show a drop of up to 90% in CO2 emissions compared with virgin PET. Its high recyclability also makes it less likely to end up in landfill and around 58% of PET bottles are recycled in Europe today. This makes it the most recycled plastic packaging material.


If you’ve ever drunk a carbonated soft drink or bottled water, then the chances are you’ve already been making the right choice. PET’s incredible performance and recyclability make it one of the most sustainable packaging materials in the world. But how can you know if something is made of PET? Simple; look for the 1 symbol.


At the bottom of most plastic packaging, you’ll find a number inside the triple arrow recycling symbol. This number tells you what plastic that packaging is made from and makes it easy to understand how recyclable your packaging is.


PET is approved as safe for use in direct food contact in the EU, as well as by the US’s FDA and health agencies across the world. PET’s continued use in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and medical sectors is a testament to this valuable material’s safety and versatility. Repeated studies, regulatory approvals and testing show that PET is safe.


PET is inert and does not give off contaminants into the environment, which combined with its recyclability, means it has virtually no direct impact on the planet. Durable, shatterproof and light, PET is safe to use in food packaging, as well as in medical devices that are used inside the human body and personal protective equipment (PPE) used by medical workers and first responders.


While PET clearly outperforms other plastic packaging, this isn’t the only option for packaging. What about other materials like aluminium, glass, or paper? Let’s assume that these materials are all being recycled and use that whole life approach we mentioned earlier.


Aluminium is recyclable and can be remade into packaging. However, the process of producing and recycling aluminium is highly resource intensive. To make cans, aluminium must be heated to temperatures of more than 1000°C, while PET needs temperatures of around 260°C to be made into bottles. Higher temperatures mean more emissions, and even cans made with recycled aluminium produce more CO2 per tonne than bottles made from recycled PET.


Glass also requires very high temperatures in order to be made or remade from existing glass, with this process producing up to 4.5 times the emissions of PET bottle production. Glass is also significantly heavier than plastic, weighing up to 10 times more and resulting in a significantly larger carbon footprint for transport. This means that PET – recycled PET – bottles produce lower transport emissions than reusable glass bottles as they are much lighter.


While raw paper and cardboard are more biodegradable than PET, food packaging made with these materials is often laminated with plastic or aluminium, making it non-recyclable. This packaging ends up in landfill where it takes up more space than the same weight of plastic and it has slow rates of degradation. Cardboard is also more energy intensive to produce than plastic, producing more waste and requiring the cutting down of trees. Cardboard also weighs more than plastic, increasing transport emissions.


Packaging made from non-plastic materials is also often being discarded instead of recycled, with shattered glass being dangerous and ring pulls from discarded aluminium cans being ingested by wildlife. This means that, when taking a whole life approach and comparing with glass and aluminium, choosing PET packaging and recycling it results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.



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