What Is Polyethylene Tetraphyte (PET)?
PET, short for polyethylene terephthalate, is the chemical name of polythene. It is clear, lightweight, and strong. It is widely used to package carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, milk, juice, tubs, trays for food items, bottles for household, personal care, pharmaceutical products, and sheet and film for packaging.
The essential components of PET are ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, which shape a polymer chain, bringing about spaghetti-like strands. Subsequently, these strands are expelled, immediately cooled, and cut into tiny pellets. The pellets are then warmed to a liquid fluid that can be formed into any shape.
The Good of PET
Alongside being the most commonly used polymer in the packaging sector, there are several benefits of PET, such as:
- It is easily available and inexpensive
- It has a high strength-to-weight ratio
- It has excellent resistance to organic material and water
- It is virtually shatterproof and easily recyclable
- It is transparent and comes in a variety of shapes and colors, offering a good choice for packaging
The Bad of PET
Along with several advantages, there are some disadvantages of PET as well. These includes:
- It has lower heat resistance
- It is susceptible to oxidization (For example, it is not used for storing beer or wine as the shelf life of these beverages is long such that some degradation in taste may occur.)
- It is not biodegradable, which is good and bad depending on your perspective and the intended use
Why Should You Recycle PET?
PET is highly durable and lasts for five to seven centuries. This low degradation rate and the increasing production of PET have contributed to the plastic waste crisis the world is facing.
According to a report, the North American market has a surplus capacity of polyethylene tetraphyte, leading to increased competition for market share between producers, lowering the price of virgin PET, and rising demand. In response to this, the industry increased production in multiple world regions. This overcapacity has raised many concerns about the materials’ end-of-life stages, how they are discarded, and whether they are collected, sorted, and recycled.
According to PETRA, the PET Resin Association, the recycling rate in the US was about 31% in 2012, but in 2016, the recycling rate in the US had fallen below 29%.
Thus, to reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfills, it is necessary to focus on recycling plastic and encouraging recycled PET (rPET) over virgin PET.
How Is PET Recycled?
Before the industrial process of recycling starts, PET waste is collected through curbside recycling programs that involve both single-stream and dual-stream approaches. The single-stream recycling approach requires all recyclables to be placed in the same container, while the dual-stream recycling approach requires paper-based products to be collected in a separate bin from plastic.
The PET materials are then sorted out from other recyclable materials at material recovery centers and are baled for shipment to PET recycling facilities.
Once the bales of PET waste reach the waste facilities, they organize and break it down into individual bottles. After they complete this sorting process, they shred the PET material into particles called flakes. Further, the separation techniques involve washing, air classification, and water baths where the materials float or sink, which helps separate residual foreign materials.
Once the grinding, washing, and separating processes are completed, they rinse the material to eliminate contaminants and cleaning agents. They then dry the recycled PET material before reintroducing it for further processing or as a manufacturing material.
Melt filtering is introduced for further purification of the material by removing any non-melting contaminants. The extruded material is then passed through a screening series to form pellets.
Recycling PET is done in a full waste compactor plastic container. Compactors are easy to use and reliable. Even recycling balers are used for recycling PET. Balers have a large capacity, which reduces the time spent on waste management.
Products Made From rPET
Recycled polyethylene terephthalate is called rPET. PET plastic is the most commonly recycled plastic material. Most of it is used to make recycled plastic bottles, but PET is the most versatile and easily recyclable material. rPET can be recycled into products such as:
- Automotive parts
- Polyester carpet fiber
- T-shirt fabrics
- Athletic shorts
- Industrial strapping
- Sheet and film
- PET containers
- Plastic bottles
- Pet beds
- Fiberfill for sleeping bags and winter coats
Recycled plastic can be remade into new products, saving raw materials from overuse and causing more plastic pollution.
The recycling industry recycles package material, reducing the problem of single-use plastic. Once recycled materials are repurposed into new products, they can re-enter the multi-billion plastics industry.
As PET is a highly recyclable material, organizations that produce a massive amount of this waste should ensure that they send it to recycling facilities to get it recycled appropriately.
Compactor Management Company (former Northern California Compactors, Inc.) offers installation and support services for waste recycling equipment such as trash compactors, balers, shredders & conveyor systems. Established in 1981, it offers waste management solutions across the United States.