The fight against single-use plastics is a big challenge, but not all plastic packaging is the same. Easily recognizable thanks to its number 1 symbol, PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is the most recycled plastic packaging in Europe.
Indeed, PET bottles are made to be remade. The only plastic that can be recycled at 100% in a closed circuit, from bottle to bottle, this versatile material is the complete opposite of single-use disposable plastics.
Discovered in the 1940s, PET is extremely light and strong, making it ideal for the packaging industry. It is also completely safe for food packaging, before and after recycling, and is approved for use by governments and organizations around the world. These qualities have led to its widespread adoption in the water and beverage industries, as 70% soft drinks, fruit juices, dilutable beverages and bottled water are currently packaged in PET bottles.
Why is PET not like the others?
Thanks to its high recyclability, PET is the only plastic to have received the #1 designation. The bottle-to-bottle loop is the industry's goal. Indeed, PET can contain up to 100% of recycled material, which means that in the future, all bottles could be made from recycled PET (rPET). Again and again.
Currently, around 58% of bottles are recycled in Europe. We need to improve this situation if we want to increase the number of bottles made with rPET. By 2025, all PET bottles will be made from at least 25% of recycled PET and by 2029, at least 9 out of 10 PET bottles will be collected for recycling.
The industry is ready to contribute to the achievement ofa more sustainable future for packaging. We invest heavily in deposit-return systems (DRS) and recycling. We currently have the capacity to recycle an additional 11 billion bottles each year, but improving collection rates is key to getting the most out of it.
We want to use more rPET in our production. To do this, we need to recover our bottles. Every PET bottle sent for incineration or landfill is a waste of valuable resources. A more sustainable future is possible and recycling PET can help us get there.
The industry has also worked to improve the design of its PET bottles, reducing their weight by 40% since 2000. This improvement means more food and drink can be delivered with less plastic. Products transported in PET packaging therefore have a lower environmental impact than others, since their transport requires less fuel.
What is the most sustainable packaging material?
But it's not just other plastic packaging that PET outperforms, it also has advantages over alternatives such as glass and aluminum.
PET can be recycled quickly and requires far less energy than glass and aluminum, which means it generates up to 75 % less greenhouse gas emissions. It is clear that choosing PET and recycling it is the sustainable option. And with its 100 TP2T recyclability, you can make that choice again and again.
Although the goal is for every PET bottle to be remade into another bottle, there are times when the quality of the plastic deteriorates throughout its lifespan due to its use or the recycling process. While deteriorated PET cannot be used for food or beverage packaging, its high recyclability means it can still be reused for a number of other uses.
rPET that cannot be used to make new bottles can still be used to make polyester fibers. PETr products are used by automotive manufacturers to manufacture automotive interiors and parts such as seat belts.
rPET is also versatile enough to have a number of uses in the fashion industry. The fabric can be used to make t-shirts and thermal underwear, as well as luggage and bags and even the soles of our slippers Caussun.
PET is made to be remade. Every discarded bottle is a missed opportunity to turn this precious material into something useful. Let's put an end to waste. Recycle number 1.