PET - The Success Story

PETThe most common container in the soft drink market today in South Africa is the plastic bottle, or more specifically, the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle. PET is the type of plastic resin, a form of polyester labeled with the #1 code on or near the bottom of bottles and containers.

PET is made out of ethylene and paraxylene. Their derivatives (ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid) are made to react at high temperature and high pressure to obtain amorphous PET. The resin is then crystallised and polymerised to increase its molecular weight and its viscosity. The resulting resin is the raw material used to make containers.   

The PET container is recognisable as the transparent, rigid container used to package bottled water, carbonated soft drinks (CSD’s), sports drinks, water, household cleaners and food trays. It is a popular package for food and non-food products.

PET is tough and resilient and lends itself to recycling. Facilitation of recycling has become international best practice for plastic bottle manufacturers. A distinctive recycling logo is stamped onto the base of the material. This shows that the manufacturer has demonstrated sensitivity to environmental concerns by creating packaging products that lend themselves to recovery and recycling. In markets with high levels of environmental awareness, shoppers regard such identification as reassurance that they are buying products manufactured by socially responsible business.

Identifying Other Plastics:

Bottles are stamped with a grading number from one to seven to indicate the material that has been used. The number 1 indicates PET, 2 HDPE, 3 PVC and so on.

PE (polyethethylene) is used in low-density (LDPE #4), medium-density and high-density (HDPE # 2) forms. Rigidity increases with density. It is used for blow-moulded bottles and drums, injection-moulded milk crates, food trays and extruded water and gas pipes. The PE recycling process is similar to PET de-polymerisation. However, PE does not sink in the wash water. PE is used for film, bags, pallet wrap, sacks and silage wrap.


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