The Association of Plastics Recyclers
  • PET

    PET

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate, Resin Identification Code #1)

Due to its clarity and natural CO2 barrier properties, PET is one of the most widely used packaging resins. It is easily blown into a bottle or formed into a sheet, thereby becoming the resin of choice for many applications. PET does not normally have the desired properties for closures, handles, attachments or labels so other polymers are commonly used for these items and affixed to the PET package. PET properties can be enhanced with colorants, UV blockers, oxygen barriers/scavengers and other additives. Each modification and addition to the base, clear PET in a package must be considered for its effect on the recycling stream. Items should either be economically removed from the PET in the typical recycling process or be compatible with RPET in future uses. The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. Closures, labels and attachments should be made from materials with a density less than 1.0 that will float in water and therefore be readily separated from the PET.

  • PREFERRED

    PET and PET co-polymer resins which have a crystalline melting point between 225 and 255C

    Materials of a lower melt point or non-crystalline materials become sticky in the reclaimers’ pre-extrusion dryer and prevent the material from flowing through the process. Materials of a higher melt point remain solid in the reclaimers’ extruder and cause blockages in melt screens. Both conditions greatly hinder the ability of the reclaimer to operate.

    Bio-Based PET Resins

    Bio-based PET resin, in which the MEG or PTA components are sourced from biological materials such as sugar cane residue, is fully compatible with petroleum-based PET in the recycling process. Bio-based PET should not be confused with PET containing bio- or oxo-degradable additives.

    Recycled PET (rPET) Content

    The use of postconsumer PET in all packages is encouraged to the maximum amount technically and economically feasible.

    DETRIMENTAL

    None listed.

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    Look-alike packaging made of other, non-compatible resins in the PET supply stream. Non-crystalline PET structures with melting points outside the Preferred range.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Blends of PET and other resins designed to enhance properties in the intended first use with unknown residual effects in future uses of the recovered resin.

    DEFINITIVE TEST

  • PREFERRED

    Clear unpigmented PET

    Clear material has the highest value as a recycled stream since it has the widest variety of end-use applications. It is the most cost effective to process through the recycling system.

    Transparent light blue

    Light blue material is most often included with the clear material stream to act as a bluing agent and offset some yellowing. This adds volume to the high value clear stream and improves its quality when used in limited amounts. Normally it can also be added to the green stream with little negative effect.

    Transparent light green

    Green material has significant volume in the marketplace and may comprise up to 30% of the PET bale. The reclaimer may process it into a value added product, or send it to another reclaimer dedicated to green material. Its value is second only to clear material.

    DETRIMENTAL

    Opaque colored and white bottles

    Colored bottles that are not transparent may contain pigments that cause contamination in the PET stream. The colorants used to make a white PET bottle are not separable from the resin, and mix with clear and all other colors when the rPET pellets are extruded. This results in undesirable colors and a low-value rPET. Other opaque colored bottles also have very limited market value, as they cannot be included with the transparent bottle stream and the costs of sorting them into a separate bale usually outweigh the value gained.

    Transparent bottles, not light blue or light green

    Other transparent colors are used for PET bottles containing specialty beverages, supplements, personal care and automotive products. These may be sorted as PET and processed into lower value, dark colored fiber or sheet products.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Black and dark colors with L-Value less than 40 or NIR reflectance less than or equal to 10%

    Historically, black colored packaging items have not been detectable as PET with NIR sorting, and therefore virtually all went to the waste stream. Recent innovations in both black colorants and sortation technology have created the possibility of sortable black PET containers. However, markets for black PET containers remain limited as referenced above. Therefore, testing results are limited to Detrimental and Non-recyclable only at this point in time.

    Sortable colorants are commercially available. Companies that are considering such colorants and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results. As noted above, an item may meet the technical specifications for sorting, but may still not be considered recyclable due to lack of markets

    BENCHMARK TEST

  • PREFERRED

    Items whose dimensions are clearly more 3-dimensional than 2-dimensional (CASS > 20)

    Early in the MRF sorting process, 3-dimensional items (containers) are separated from 2-dimensional items (paper). It is important that they sort property and do not cross-contaminate. Most PET bottles are more “round” (3-D) than “flat” (2-D) and therefore sort correctly.

    Items less than 7.5 liters (two gallons) in volume

    Recycling machinery, particularly automatic sorting equipment, is not large enough to accept items larger than 7.5 liters. Because larger containers jam the systems, most MRFs employ manual sortation before the automatic line to remove the large items. These items are recovered in a stream of bulky rigid containers that are sold and processed as polyethylene since the vast majority of bulky rigid items are comprised of this polymer. Other polymers including PET either negatively affect or are lost by the polyethylene processing.

    Items that clearly measure larger than 5 centimeters (two inches) in two dimensions

    Small size boundaries are of concern because the industry standard screen size for Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in North America potentially loses materials less than two inches to the residue waste stream. Testing can determine the impact of the size and shape of a container on sortability.

    DETRIMENTAL

    Items greater than 7.5 liters (two gallons) in volume

    Recycling machinery, particularly automatic sorting equipment, is not large enough to accept items larger than 7.5 liters . Because larger containers jam the systems, most MRFs employ manual sortation before the automatic line to remove the large items. These items are recovered in a stream of bulky rigid containers that are sold and processed as polyethylene since the vast majority of bulky rigid items are comprised of this polymer. Other polymers including PET either negatively affect or are lost by the polyethylene processing.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Items more 2-dimensional than 3-dimensional (CASS > 11 but < 20)

    Aside from not being captured in the PET stream, non-conforming items that are more “flat” can cause contamination in the paper stream. If items are not captured and directed into the PET stream, they are not recycled. Items should have a minimum depth of two inches for proper sortation.

    *Under Development - Definitive Test
    Evaluation of 2D/3D Sorting Potential for Articles (SORT-B-0X)

    Items smaller than 5 centimeters (2 inches) in 2 dimensions

    The industry standard screen size for North American MRFs potentially loses materials less than 5 cm to the residue waste stream. Testing can determine the impact of the size and shape of a container on sortability.

    BENCHMARK TEST

  • PREFERRED

    Closures without liners, made from polymers with density

    The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. Since these other polymers float in water, they are most easily separated from PET flake in conventional separation systems. Additionally, the PET recycling process captures floatable PE and PP closures to create an ancillary stream of marketable material. Care must be taken when modifying the PE or PP, with mineral fillers for example, to ensure the modifier does not increase the overall density to the point it sinks.

    Closures plus liners made from polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water (specifically PE & PP closures; PE foam, EVA, TPE liners)

    Shrink film safety seals of polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water

    Since these polymers float in water, they are most easily separated from PET flake in conventional separation systems. Care must be taken when modifying the PE or PP, with mineral fillers for example, to ensure the modifier does not increase the overall density to the point it sinks.

    Shrink film safety seals that are designed to be completely removed before the package can be opened

    Regardless of material, designs that require complete removal by the consumer of the safety seal are Preferred, as the material will not be introduced into the recycling stream.

    DETRIMENTAL

    Closure liners that are composites of aluminum and paper

    These materials will contaminate wash water, will contribute to waste disposal costs, or will stick to the saleable closure material or valuable PET and reduce quality and value of the final products.

    Closures and shrink film safety seals made of polymers with density >1.0 that sink in water (specifically PS, silicone, nylon, acetal, thermosets)

    The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. Polystyrene, silicone, nylon, acetal, and thermoset plastics are plastics that are expected to sink in the float-sink tank with PET and be detrimental to PET recycling. Sinking plastics are not removed from PET, thereby causing contamination in the final product.

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    PVC

    The use of PVC closures or closure liners renders the package non-recyclable per APR. PVC sinks and is extremely hard for the recycler to remove, particularly in small pieces. The recycled PET stream is very intolerant of even minute amounts of PVC.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Closures or lidding with metal components

    Metal contamination is highly undesirable in recycled PET. Metals create wear in process machinery, increase operation costs and yield loss, and are a primary source of defects in products made with recycled PET. MRFs and PET reclaimers use magnets, eddy current separators and metal detectors to keep packages with metal components out of the process stream. Metal components such as closures or lidding that trigger metal detectors will cause the entire plastic item to be removed from the stream and not recycled. At best, sortation testing will classify such an item as Detrimental to Recycling.

    BENCHMARK TEST

  • PREFERRED

    Polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water (specifically PE & PP closures; PE foam, EVA, TPE liners)

    The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. Since these other polymers float in water, they are most easily separated from PET flake in conventional separation systems. Additionally, the PET recycling process captures floatable PE and PP closures to create an ancillary stream of marketable material. Care must be taken when modifying the PE or PP, with mineral fillers for example, to ensure the modifier does not increase the overall density to the point it sinks.

    DETRIMENTAL

    None listed

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    PVC

    The use of PVC in spray dispensers or pumps renders the package non-recyclable per APR. PVC sinks and is extremely hard for the recycler to remove, particularly in small pieces. The recycled PET stream is very intolerant of even minute amounts of PVC.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Valves containing silicone (density and floatability will vary)

    Check valves in spray dispensers or pumps may be made of silicone as an alternative to metals. While polymers are generally preferable to metals, the composition of a silicone part may cause it to be incompatible with PET recycling. It should float in the sink/float system or be compatible with PET if it sinks. Companies that are considering such components and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    SCREENING TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Valves or springs made of metal

    Metal contamination is highly undesirable in recycled PET. Metals create wear in process machinery, increase operation costs and yield loss, and are a primary source of defects in products made with recycled PET. MRFs and PET reclaimers use magnets, eddy current separators and metal detectors to keep packages with metal components out of the process stream. Metal components such as pump springs or valves that trigger metal detectors will cause the entire plastic item to be removed from the stream and not recycled. Any dispenser containing metal components must be tested to determine the recyclability category. At best, sortation testing will classify such an item as Detrimental to Recycling.

    BENCHMARK TEST

  • Label selection should be considered carefully to find the solution most compatible with the recycling process that also provides the necessary performance characteristics. At a minimum, labels must be designed so NIR sorting machinery can identify the bottle polymer with the label attached, and labels should use adhesives that release from the bottle. Removing adhesives is a significant component to the cost of recycling so the packages using the lowest quantity of appropriate adhesive are the most compatible.

    APR provides an overview of labels and their compatibility with specific portions of the recycling process in our Label Summary Table. All labels should meet guidance for coverage and compatibility, and tested in any areas where this is unclear. 

    Additional guidance for choosing labels can be found in the following Resource Documents:

    PREFERRED

    Polymer labels with a density < 1.0 that float in water, specifically polypropylene or polyethylene

    The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. These other materials float in water so they are separated from the PET in the float-sink tank with the closures. Since they are the same general polymer as most of the closures they do not contaminate or devalue this stream. Care should be taken to ensure that any modifiers to the label material do not increase its density above 1.0.

    Full bottle sleeve labels that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition

    Several companies have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition for full bottle sleeve labels for PET bottles. In order for any of these materials to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results. Significant data is available to determine whether a full bottle sleeve label may be compatible with PET recycling, and APR offers test methods to verify this.

    Labels that do not fully cover the sidewall of a bottle

    For Near Infrared (NIR) sorting of container resin, testing has shown that a high-coverage label may cause a false reading on an NIR automatic sorter and direct a PET bottle to another material stream where it is lost to the process. There is no specific guidance on label surface coverage for NIR sortation at this time (see Requires Testing below). 

    For correct color sortation at the reclaimer, testing has shown that high surface coverage labels can impede sortation of clear bottles into the clear stream. An automated color sorter must be able to detect a clear PET bottle beneath a printed label and properly sort it into the clear, rather than color, PET bottle stream.

    Preferred label coverage guidance for color sortation:

    • For containers of 550 ml or less, cover not more than 55% of the bottle surface area with label
    • For containers greater than 550 ml, cover not more than 70% of the bottle surface area with label

    Label percent surface area coverage is based on the label surface area divided by the surface area of the bottle, not including the neck finish or bottle base surface area.

    Labeled bottles that are outside of the guidance above can be evaluated via the APR Evaluation of Color Sorting Potential of Labeled Articles (NOTE: test document under development)

    DETRIMENTAL

    Paper labels

    The PET reclamation process involves a hot caustic wash that removes adhesives and other label components. This process renders paper into a pulp which is very difficult to filter from the liquid, adding significant load to the filtering and water treatment systems. Some of the small individual paper fibers will remain with the PET and carbonize when the material is extruded, causing unacceptable quality degradation. Non-pulping paper labels that resist the caustic wash process sink in the float-sink tank, thereby causing RPET contamination.

    Polymers with density > 1.0 except PVC and PLA

    The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. The reclaimers rely on float-sink systems to separate non-PET materials. Label components that sink with the PET end up in the RPET stream as contaminants. PVC and PLA are unacceptable at any level.

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    PVC and PLA

    Both materials are extremely difficult to remove in the recycling process due to their similarity in density to PET, which causes them to sink in the float/sink tank along with the PET. Both cause severe quality degradation in the final recycled PET stream even in very small amounts.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Laminated label substrate

    Labels that break into small, very thin pieces of material are more difficult to manage in the recycling process because they behave erratically in a float-sink tank. Therefore, labels that stay intact are preferred. Carry-over of delaminated labels into the RPET can result in contamination.

    In order for any of these label materials to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results. If these items have not been tested, they are considered Detrimental to Recycling. Testing will determine the appropriate category.

    Companies that are considering such materials and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Full bottle sleeve labels

    Much is known about the sortability and recycling compatibility of full bottle sleeve labels, as explained in APR’s Resource Document. Several label technologies have received Critical Guidance Recognition. For innovative or new designs for full body sleeve labels, testing will determine the appropriate category.

    Full bottle sleeve labels must be tested for both bottle surface area coverage and compatibility with PET.

    Surface area

    Some sleeve labels cover a large amount of the bottle surface with a polymer that is not the same as the bottle body. The label may then cause a false reading on a Near Infrared (NIR) automatic sorter and direct a PET bottle to another material stream where it is lost to the process. High surface coverage labels can also impede detection of the color of a PET bottle. Automated color sorters must be able to detect a clear PET bottle beneath a printed label and properly sort it into the clear, rather than color, PET bottle stream. If a bottle is lost in either the NIR or the color the sortation process, it is rendered non-recyclable as it does not enter the stream and is discarded as waste.

    Testing has shown that best practice guidance recommends:

    • For containers of 550 ml or less, cover not more than 55% of the bottle surface area with label
    • For containers greater than 550 ml, cover not more than 70% of the bottle surface area with label

    If one’s design is outside of the best practice guidance above, the labeled bottle must be evaluated using the NIR sortation potential test and the forthcoming APR Evaluation of Color Sorting Potential of Labeled Articles.

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Compatibility

    Some sleeve label materials have a density of > 1.0, and thus sink in the float/sink tank and remain with the PET. This material cannot be removed in the recycling process and can contaminate the RPET produced if not compatible with PET.

    SCREENING TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Metal foil, metalized and metallic printed labels

    Sorting equipment in the recycling process is designed to detect and eliminate metal from PET. Even very thin metallized labels may be identified as metal by the sorting equipment and cause the entire bottle to be rejected as waste, thereby creating yield loss. If not detected, metals pass through the process with the PET and cause contamination issues in the RPET.

    If a bottle is lost in the metal sortation process, it is rendered non-recyclable as it does not enter the stream and is discarded as waste. If a bottle passes through sortation, it is categorized as Detrimental due to the contamination of PET that results from metal residue.

    BENCHMARK TEST

    Polystyrene labels

    The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. Polystyrene has a density of > 1.0, so it sinks and remains with the PET in float/sink separation systems. It is not compatible with PET and may cause serious processing and end-use problems. However, expanded PS may float and be separable from the PET.

    SCREENING TEST

    Label structures that sink in water because of the choice of substrate, ink, decoration, coatings, and top layer

    The density of PET is 1.38 and so it sinks in water. The reclaimers rely on float-sink systems to separate non-PET materials. Label components that sink with the PET end up in the RPET stream as contaminants.

    SCREENING TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

  • PREFERRED

    Standard hot-melt adhesives

    The standard hot-melt adhesive used for labels has not been identified by recyclers as having specific incompatibilities with their process or quality.

    Label adhesives that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition

    Several companies have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition for label adhesives for PET bottles. Significant data is available to determine whether a label adhesive may be compatible with PET recycling, and APR offers test methods to verify this.

    DETRIMENTAL

    None listed

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    None listed

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Label adhesives that may not completely remove from PET

    Adhesives that wash off cleanly from PET and remain adhered to the label are Preferred. Label adhesive that is not removed from PET, or which re-deposits on the PET during the wash step is a source of contamination and discoloration when PET is recycled. In extreme cases, an adhesive and label cannot be separated from the PET and may render a package not recyclable.

    In order for label adhesives to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results. . If these items have not been tested, they are considered Detrimental to Recycling. Testing will determine the appropriate category.

    Removable label adhesives that have received Critical Guidance Recognition are commercially available. Companies that have developed new, innovative adhesives are encouraged to pursue APR Critical Guidance Recognition for their materials as well.

    Companies that are considering such materials and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    BENCHMARK TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Acrylic copolymer pressure sensitive adhesives

    In order for these label adhesives to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results. If these items have not been tested, they are considered Detrimental to Recycling. Testing will determine the appropriate category.

    Label adhesives that have received Critical Guidance Recognition are commercially available. Companies that have developed new, innovative adhesives are encouraged to pursue APR Critical Guidance Recognition for their materials as well.

    Companies that are considering such materials and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    BENCHMARK TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Pressure sensitive labels and adhesives

    Pressure sensitive labels generally require complete adhesive coverage which is greater than other typical label methods. This raises the importance of the compatibility of the type of adhesive with the recycling process. Adhesives resistant to washing in the recycling process allow labels to remain on the PET and become contaminants in the final product. Companies that are considering such materials and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    SCREENING TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

  • PREFERRED

    Label Inks that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition

    Several companies have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition for label inks for PET bottles. Significant data is available to determine whether a label ink may be compatible with PET recycling, and APR offers test methods to verify this.

    DETRIMENTAL

    None listed

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    None listed

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Direct printing other than date coding

    Historically, inks used in direct printing tend to bleed or otherwise discolor the PET during the recycling process or introduce incompatible contaminants that reduce the value of the RPET. The specific ink must be tested to determine its effect.

    BENCHMARK TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Inks that might stain PET flake in the wash process

    Some label inks bleed color in the reclamation process, and that color may re-deposit on the PET flake suspended in the wash water. Discoloring the PET in this way significantly diminishes its value for recycling.

    In order for any of these label inks to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results. If these items have not been tested, they are considered Detrimental to Recycling. Testing will determine the appropriate category.

    Non-staining label inks that have received Critical Guidance Recognition are commercially available. Companies that are considering label inks and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    BENCHMARK TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

  • Barrier layers, coatings, and other additives are critical additions to PET bottles to enhance the properties of PET. Unlike closures or labels, these additions cannot be visually determined to be problematic or potentially problematic for recycling. Therefore, testing is particularly important. While several additive materials have been tested and received Critical Guidance Recognition, their penetration in the marketplace is currently limited, and the potential range and scope of new performance enhancing barrier technologies is unknown. APR encourages companies to use commercially available, Preferred technologies as determined by testing, and also promotes innovation in the development and testing of new barrier technologies.

    BARRIER MATERIALS AND ADDITIVES FOR PRODUCT PROTECTION

    PREFERRED

    Barrier materials or additives for product protection that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition

    One company has received APR Critical Guidance Recognition for a branded silicon oxide barrier coating for PET bottles. One company has received APR Critical Guidance Recognition for a branded oxygen scavenger additive for PET bottles. In order for any of these materials to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results.

    DETRIMENTAL

    Nylon

    Nylon barrier layers are not removed in the PET recycling process. The presence of nylon causes discoloration in the PET flake, ultimately reducing the value of the RPET produced. Compensating for the presence of nylon by using additional toners adds cost and potentially other contaminants to the recycling process.

    Untested barrier materials or additives for product protection

    Barriers and additives that have not been tested under APR test protocols are classified as Detrimental due to a lack of data about their impact on the cost, productivity and quality of the PET recycling process. Companies must test as explained below.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Barrier materials or additives for product protection

    In order for any of these materials to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results If these items have not been tested, they are considered Detrimental to Recycling. Testing will determine the appropriate category.

    A silicon oxide coating that has received Critical Guidance Recognition is commercially available. An oxygen scavenger additive that has received Critical Guidance Recognition is commercially available.

    Companies that have developed new, innovative barrier materials are encouraged to pursue APR Critical Guidance Recognition for their materials as well. Companies that are considering such barrier materials and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    SCREENING TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    OTHER ADDITIVES

    PREFERRED

    Reheat additives that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition

    One company has received APR Critical Guidance Recognition for a branded reheat additive for PET bottles. In order for any of these materials to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results.

    DETRIMENTAL

    Optical brighteners

    Optical brighteners are not removed from PET in the recycling process and the residual amount can cause unacceptable fluorescence in the next use of the PET resin. The negative impact on the value and quality of the rPET is not detectable until late in the recycling process.

    Any other untested additives

    Barriers and additives that have not been tested under APR test protocols are classified as Detrimental due to a lack of data about their impact on the cost, productivity and quality of the PET recycling process. Toners, reheat additives and degradable additives are of particular concern to PET reclaimers. Companies must test as explained below.

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    None listed

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Toners

    In order for any of these materials to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred based on the test results. Toners that have been tested and found to be thermally stable are Preferred. If these items have not been tested, they are considered Detrimental to Recycling. Testing will determine the appropriate category. Companies that are considering such materials and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    SCREENING TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Reheat additives

    Reheat additives can turn PET flake dark or yellow, thereby reducing the value and marketability of the rPET produced. Testing can verify their impact.

    In order for any of these materials to be considered Preferred Design, the specific items must have been tested and found Preferred. If these items have been tested, they are considered Detrimental to Recycling. Testing will determine the appropriate category.

    A reheat additive that has received Critical Guidance Recognition is commercially available. Companies that have developed new, innovative additives are encouraged to pursue APR Critical Guidance Recognition for their materials as well. Companies that are considering such materials and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

    SCREENING TEST

    DEFINITIVE TEST

    Degradable additives (photo, oxo, or bio)

    Recycled PET is intended to be used in new products engineered to meet particular quality and durability standards. Additives designed to degrade the polymer diminish the life of the material in the primary use, and may shorten the useful life of the product made from the RPET as well, possibly compromising quality and durability. These additives must either separate and be removed from the PET in the recycling process or have no adverse effects on the RPET in future uses. When used, their content should be minimized to the greatest extent possible to maximize PET yield, limit potential contamination, and reduce separation costs.

    SCREENING TEST

  • PREFERRED

    Clear PET attachments with compatible crystalline melt point

    Attachments made of the base polymer are recovered and recycled with the base polymer without causing contamination or yield loss, thereby generating the highest value.

    DETRIMENTAL

    Paper attachments

    The PET recycling process involves a hot caustic wash that removes adhesives and other components. This process renders paper into a pulp which is very difficult to filter from the liquid, adding significant load to the filtering and water treatment systems. Some of the small individual paper fibers will remain with the PET and carbonize when the material is extruded, causing unacceptable quality degradation.

    Welded attachments

    A certain amount of a welded attachment cannot be separated from the PET in the recycling process. These attachments, even when ground and made of floatable materials, cause RPET contamination and yield loss issues in both cases: when the PET they are attached to causes the ground section containing both polymers to sink, or when the ground section floats.

    RFID’s (radio frequency identification devices) on packages, labels or closures

    Unless they are compatible with PET recycling and are demonstrated not to create any disposal issues based on their material content, the use of RFID’s is discouraged as it limits PET yield, introduces potential contamination, and increases separation costs.

    Polystyrene (PS)

    Polystyrene has a density of > 1.0, so it sinks and remains with the PET in float/sink separation systems. It is not compatible with PET and may cause serious processing and end-use problems.

    RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

    PVC and PLA attachments

    Both materials are extremely difficult to remove in the recycling process due to their similarity in density to PET, which causes them to sink in the float/sink tank along with the PET. Both cause severe quality degradation in the final recycled PET stream even in very small amounts.

    REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

    Metal, metalized and metal containing attachments

    Examples include metal foils and metalized substrates that sink in water. In the recycling process these items are either identified and removed along with their PET component in the early stages, thereby causing yield loss, or they pass into the recycling process causing a contamination issue. Since they are heavier than water they sink with the PET in the float-sink tank.

    If a metalized attachment causes the PET bottle to fail sortation testing, the bottle is Rendered Non-Recyclable as it is removed from the stream and discarded. If a metalized attachments passes through sortation, it is considered Detrimental as it contaminates PET.

    BENCHMARK TEST

PET Preferred Guidance

Closure

Closure

Made of PE or PP so it separates from PET in a float/sink tank and can be sold as a side stream by reclaimer.
Dimensions

Dimensions

More 2D (round) than 3D (flat), and larger than 5 cm in two dimensions.
Layers & Coatings

Layers & Coatings

APR Critical Guidance recognized barriers or protective coatings.
Resin

Resin

PET with a crystalline melting point between 225C and 255C. Post consumer PET (RPET) content is encouraged.
Label

Label

Crystallizable PET or a polymer that floats in water; label covers less than 100% of bottle surface.
  • Closure

    Closure

    Made of PE or PP so it separates from PET in a float/sink tank and can be sold as a side stream by reclaimer.
  • Dimensions

    Dimensions

    More 2D (round) than 3D (flat), and larger than 5 cm in two dimensions.
  • Layers & Coatings

    Layers & Coatings

    APR Critical Guidance recognized barriers or protective coatings.
  • Resin

    Resin

    PET with a crystalline melting point between 225C and 255C. Post consumer PET (RPET) content is encouraged.
  • Label

    Label

    Crystallizable PET or a polymer that floats in water; label covers less than 100% of bottle surface.

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