Of the approximately 1.4 million tonnes of domestic packaging recycled in Spain last year, around 69.7% was plastic packaging. As well as society’s increasing awareness of the need to give waste a new life, there are a growing number of recycling options for some plastics, such as PET packaging.
Discover why this type of material is more sustainable and the best option for product packaging.
WHAT IS PET PACKAGING AND WHAT ARE ITS MAIN USES?
PET packaging is packaging made of polyester. Some of its most notable features are the following:
- High resistance to tearing and corrosion
- Good glide
- Withstands heat treatments
- Can be combined with other barrier materials
- Excellent CO2 barrier and good moisture barrier
The technical properties of PET make it very versatile, allowing the production of different types of packaging for different uses:
- Water bottles
- Fizzy drinks
- Cooking oil
- Trays for pre-packaged foods
- Preserved foods
- Detergents and chemical products
- Pharmaceutical products
ADVANTAGES OF PET PACKAGING OVER OTHER MATERIALS
The main advantage of PET packaging is that it is completely recyclable and sustainable. However, it also has certain features that make it the top material in the packaging industry.
- Transparency and design flexibility: These two features mean consumers can see the product inside the packaging and manufacturers have many ways of presenting their products.
- Safety and protection: The high-barrier properties and abrasion resistance of PET packaging ensure the products inside are safely preserved and remain intact. As demonstrated by food-safety standards, this material is guaranteed food-safe and non-toxic, as well as being resistant to attack by micro-organisms. While on the topic of safety, we should also point out is a very tough material, unlike other materials, such as glass.
WHY PET MAKES THE MOST SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING
LOWER ENERGY CONSUMPTION AND FEWER RESOURCES
Technological advances have meant fewer resources are now needed to manufacture PET packaging, and energy expenditure during the manufacturing process has been reduced. Being a lightweight material, the environmental impact and cost of its transport are reduced.
Several studies have also shown that PET packaging has a lower carbon footprint than other materials, as it generates less solid waste and requires less energy in production.
There is a general belief that PET packaging can only be recycled a few times. However, this depends entirely on the use it is to be given, as it can be recycled indefinitely if an effective recycling process is used.
PET is currently the most widely recycled plastic in the world and, in Spain, 44% of the packaging that enters the market is given a second use. However, this percentage that has to increase to 55% by 2025 to comply with the European Commission’s strategy on the Circular Economy.
Working towards this goal, SP Group’s TRAY2TRAY project, ensures packaging is given a new life and is reintroduced into the commodity chain. This is a system of environmental sustainability based on the recycling and reuse of APET and APET PE with or without barriers.
Recycling options: as well as the possibility of being reused as food packaging, recycled PET is commonly used in the textile, automobile and furniture industries, among others. The safety of recycled PET packaging for food and drink: the European Food Safety Authority has certified PET as food-safe. Furthermore, the use of raw materials based on recycled PET obtained in Spain for water and soft drinks is authorised by Royal Decree 517/2013, which establishes that the final packaging must contain at least 50% virgin PET.
PET packaging can, therefore, be considered both safe and environmentally sustainable, thanks to the many recycling options available and its energy efficiency during the manufacturing process.