Recycling of PET bottles
Recycling of PET Bottles is the collection, sorting and processing of
bottles made out of PET in order to reuse the material out of which they are made.In many countries, PET plastics are coded with the resin identification code number 1 inside the universal recycling symbol, usually located on the bottom of the container.
PET is used as a raw material for making
packagingmaterials such as bottles and containers for packaging a wide range of food products and other consumer goods. Examples include soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, detergents, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and edible oils. PET is one of the most common consumer plastics used.
The empty PET packaging is discarded by the consumer after use and becomes PET
waste. In the recyclingindustry, this is referred to as "post-consumer PET." Many local governments and waste collection agencies have started to collect post-consumer PET separately from other household waste. The collected post-consumer PET is taken to recycling centres known as materials recovery facilities (MRF) where it is sorted and separated from other materials such as metal, objects made out of other rigid plastics such as PVC, HDPE, polypropylene, flexible plastics such as those used for bags (generally low density polyethylene), drink cartons, and anything else which is not made out of PET.Post-consumer PET is often sorted into different colour fractions: transparent or uncoloured PET, blue and green coloured PET, and the remainder into a mixed colours fraction. The emergence of new colours (such as amber for plastic beer bottles) further complicates the sorting process for the recycling industry.
This sorted post-consumer PET waste is crushed, pressed into bales and offered for sale to recycling companies. Transparent post-consumer PET attracts higher sales prices compared to the blue and green fractions. The mixed colour fraction is the least valuable.Recycling companies will further treat the post-consumer PET by shredding the material into small fragments. These fragments still contain residues of the original content, shredded paper labels and plastic caps. These are removed by different processes, resulting in pure PET fragments, or "PET flakes". PET flakes are used as the raw material for a range of products that would otherwise be made of
polyester. Examples include polyester fibres, a base material for the production of clothing, pillows, carpets, etc., polyester sheet, strapping, or back into PET bottles.
Worldwide, approximately 1.5 million tons of PET are collected per year.
Petcore, the European trade associationthat fosters the collection and recycling of PET, forecasts that in Europe alone, collection will exceed one million tons by 2010.
PET bottles are also recycled as-is for use in
solar water disinfectionin developing nations, in which empty PET bottles are filled with water and left in the Sun for many hours while the Sun's ultraviolet radiationkills any living organisms in the water. PET is useful for this purpose because most other materials (including glass) that are transparent to visible light are opaque to ultraviolet radiation.
* [http://www.petpower.nl/plastic-PET-bottles-and-jars/recycling/petpower.aspx PET-Power explains how the recycling process works]
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