PET is short for polyethylene terephthalate, also Resin Identification Code number 1. PET is the clear and colorless plastic that is best known for use in carbonated soft drink and single serve water containers.
But PET is also used for juice and food containers, as well as personal care and home cleaning products. PET bottles can be recycled back into new PET bottles, fibers used for textiles or carpeting, PET sheet, or PET strapping.
Clear and colorless PET has the most value for recycling and has the most end use applications. When designing a PET container, it is important to prevent sources of contamination that can have a negative impact on recycling. An ideal PET container for recycling will have the following features:
- Be clear and colorless PET with no additives.
- Have a plastic closure made from polypropylene that floats in water and is readily separated from PET which sinks in water.
- Have a plastic label that floats in water, is readily removed from the bottle in a wash step, and where the ink on the label adheres well to the label.
Some PET packaging features which are generally not desirable for recycle performance:
- Metal closures.
- Additives that can discolor the PET during recycling.
- Paper labels and adhesives that are difficult to remove from PET.
- PVC labels.
- Full sleeve labels.
- Direct printing of ink on the PET container.
A number of documents can be accessed from this page giving more details about designing and testing PET bottles or labels for bottles for recycle performance.