Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) plastic is a widely used and versatile thermoplastic polymer resin that is fully recyclable. It has been used in various industries, including food and beverage packaging, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products since the 1950s. According to industry reports, the global PET plastic market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% from 2019 to 2025.
PET plastic is made from ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, which produces a strong, durable, and transparent material. Its thermoplastic nature allows it to be melted and reshaped without losing its physical properties, making it a desirable material for many industries. PET plastic’s resistance to oils, fats, and acids makes it an excellent material for storing food and beverages, ensuring that the contents remain fresh and uncontaminated.
- PET plastic is a widely used and fully recyclable thermoplastic polymer resin.
- It’s strong, durable, and clear, made from ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.
- Its thermoplastic nature allows it to be melted and reshaped many times.
- It’s resistant to oils, fats, and acids, making it ideal for storing food and beverages.
- The global PET plastic market is expected to grow by 5.1% annually from 2019 to 2025.
- Its recyclability makes it eco-friendly for reducing environmental impact.
Advantages of Using PET Plastic
PET plastic is a popular choice for packaging products due to its strength and durability, allowing it to withstand high-pressure levels without breaking. Its clarity and high gloss make it an ideal packaging material, allowing the product inside to be visible and look presentable and attractive. PET plastic is commonly used in beverage bottles and in many thermoformed packaging applications like clamshells, blisters, and trays.
PET plastic is an excellent barrier to oxygen, water, and carbon dioxide and is highly resistant to most solvents, providing a safe and secure environment for packaged products. A great advantage to PET plastic is fully recyclable, making it an attractive option for companies looking to reduce their environmental impact. When it is no longer needed, it can be recycled and reused, contributing to a more sustainable approach to packaging.
- PET plastic is strong, durable, clear, and glossy, making it ideal for packaging.
- It’s commonly used for beverages and thermoformed packaging.
- PET is an excellent barrier to oxygen, water, carbon dioxide, and solvents.
- PET plastic is fully recyclable, making it an eco-friendly option.
Universal Protective Packaging, Inc. (UPPI) places the highest priority on our relationship with the environment and our responsibility to the environment. UPPI’s ultimate sustainability goal is to make sure everything we do has the softest impact possible on the environment. Learn more about UPPI’s Sustainability Mission.
Disadvantages of Using PET Plastic
While PET plastic offers several advantages, it also has notable drawbacks. Firstly, PET plastic is non-biodegradable, meaning it cannot break down naturally and may persist in the environment, causing harm if not properly disposed of. Secondly, PET plastic is not very heat-resistant, making it unsuitable for products requiring heat or microwave use. Finally, PET plastic can release chemicals into the food or beverage stored within it, posing health risks if not correctly sealed.
Manufacturing and Recycling of PET Plastic
The manufacturing process of PET plastic involves several steps, beginning with mixing ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, heating the mixture to create a polymer resin, and cooling it into pellets or tiny beads. These are then melted and shaped using either injection molding or extrusion, with injection molding creating complex shapes and extrusion producing long, thin forms. The final product is cooled and packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag or box.
However, PET plastic has been linked to several environmental issues. The most significant of these is that it is not biodegradable and can harm the environment if not disposed of properly. PET plastic is also a source of micro-plastic pollution, negatively impacting wildlife and the environment.
The good news is that PET plastic is 100% recyclable and is the most widely recycled plastic in the world. Virtually all recycling programs in the United States accept PET containers, which can be recycled multiple times and transformed into a variety of end products, including fiber, carpeting, car parts, strapping, food and non-food bottles, and other containers. Using recycled PET saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. PET plastic must first be sorted and separated from different types of plastic based on its type, melted down, and formed into pellets or beads for reuse. However, not all PET plastic is recyclable, and some types, such as PET-G, cannot be recycled (see below).
PET-G plastic, also known as glycol-modified PETG, is more difficult to recycle than regular PET plastic because it has a lower melting point and different properties than standard PET. As a result, it cannot be mixed with PET plastic in the recycling process, as it may degrade the quality of the recycled material. PET-G is often used in applications that require clarity or impact resistance, such as medical devices, and therefore may be more likely to contain additives that could complicate the recycling process. While it is technically possible to recycle PET-G, it requires specialized equipment and methods, making it less commonly recycled than standard PET plastic.
Are You Considering PET Plastic?
PET plastic is widely used for food and beverage packaging due to its strength, durability, and clarity. It is also recyclable, making it a popular choice for environmentally-conscious companies. However, there are several downsides to using PET plastic. It is not biodegradable, which means it can potentially harm the environment if not disposed of properly. PET plastic can also leach chemicals into food or beverage packaging and contribute to micro-plastic pollution. To reduce the environmental impact of PET plastic, it is vital to use and dispose of it responsibly, including recycling it whenever possible.
If you’re considering the use of PET plastic, let us provide you a quote today!