The Association of Plastic Recyclers
  • PET

    PET

Innovation in plastics and packaging is necessary to maintain a healthy and competitive industry. To support innovators, the APR has developed a variety of laboratory test method documents that can be used to assess the impact of a plastic design feature or component on recycling. APR test methods combine laboratory practices and measurements developed specifically by and for plastic recyclers with standard ASTM tests. The objective of testing is to determine the impact of a design feature on the processability of a package item as well as the ability of post-consumer resin (PCR) derived from such feedstocks to meet quality specifications for end-use applications. To view APR’s test method definitions, click here.

In addition, APR recommends adherence to the product stewardship considerations outlined in the PET Design Guidance. A longer-term goal at APR may be to include adherence to the product stewardship guidance when evaluating package features that meet the APR Preferred category.

Design Feature Recyclability Category APR Test Methods APR Recognized Commercially Available Options Additional Resources
BASE POLYMER
Crystalline Melt Point check Preferred if
temp225-255°C
CG Recognition Letters
x Non-Recycable if
temp<225°C or > 255°C, or non-crystallizable
Bio-Based, (MEG and PTA derived from renewable resources), not degradeable check Preferred message
APR Position Statement
Recycled PET Content check Preferred paperclip
APR Position Statement

Virgin vs. Recycled Plastic LCA
Blends of PET and other resins designed to enhance properties in the intended first use with unknown residual effects on future uses of the recovered resin. unknown Needs Testing
Untested blends may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
PET-CG-01
COLOR
Transparent Clear check Preferred
Transparent Light Green check Preferred
Transparent Light Blue check Preferred
Other Transparent Colors x Detrimental
Why?
Opaque and White x Detrimental
Why?
Black and Dark Colors x Detrimental
Why?
document
SORT-B-01
document
External reviews of these technologies
DIMENSIONS
Large size boundary check Preferred if
<= 7.5 liters (2 gal.) in volume
x Detrimental if
> 7.5 liters (2 gal.) in volume
Why?
Items more 3-dimensional (round) than 2-dimensional (flat) check Preferred if
CASS > 20
document
SORT-B-0X
Small size boundary check Preferred if
> 5 cm (2 in.) in 2 dimensions
document
SORT-B-02
document
Size Sortation
CLOSURES & CLOSURE LINERS; SAFETY SEALS
Closures without liners, and valves made from polymers with density < 1.0 check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
Closures + liners, made from polymers with density < 1.0 check Preferred
Shrink film safety sleeves of polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water check Preferred
Shrink film safety sleeves that are designed to be removed before the package can be opened check Preferred
Closure liners or safety seals that are composites of AL and paper x Detrimental
Why?
Closures, seals, and shrink film safety sleeves made of polymers with density > 1.0 x Detrimental
Why?
PVC x Non-Recyclable
Closures or lidding with metal components unknown Needs Testing
Untested closures or liddings may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
document
Metal Sortation
Shrink film safety sleeves, all materials check Preferred if
completely removed before package can be opened
document
PET-S-05
PET-CG-01
SPRAY DISPENSERS & PUMPS
Polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water - specifically PE & PP closures; PE foam, EVA, TPE liners check Preferred CG Recognition Letters document
Meets Preferred Guidance Recognition Program Resource Document for Dispensers
Any amount of PVC x Non-Recyclable
Valves containing silicone (density and floatability will vary) unknown Needs Testing
Untested valves may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
PET-S-05
PET-CG-02
Valves or springs made of metal unknown Needs Testing
Untested valves may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
document
Metal Sortation
BARRIER MATERIALS AND ADDITIVES FOR PRODUCT PROTECTION
Barrier Materials and Additives that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
Nylon x Detrimental
Why?
Untested Barrier Materials or Additives x Detrimental
Why?
Silicon Oxides check Preferred if
items meet APR Critical Guidance Test conditions
document
PET-S-03
PET-CG-01
CG Recognition Letters
Oxygen Scavengers check Preferred if
items meet APR Critical Guidance Test conditions
document
PET-S-03
PET-CG-01
CG Recognition Letters
OTHER ADDITIVES
Optical Brighteners x Detrimental
Why?
Untested Additives x Detrimental
Why?
Toners check Preferred if
items meet APR Critical Guidance Test conditions
document
PET-S-03
PET-CG-01
Reheat Additives check Preferred if
items meet APR Critical Guidance Test conditions
document
PET-S-03
PET-CG-01
CG Recognition Letters
Degradable Additives unknown Needs Testing
Untested additives may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
PET-S-06
message
APR Position Paper
LABELS
PET based films that crystallize and can be recovered with the PET stream check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
Polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water - specifically PE, PP check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
Paper x Detrimental
Why?
Polymers with density > 1.0, except PVC and PLA x Detrimental
Why?
PVC or PLA in any amount x Non-Recyclable
Laminated substrate unknown Needs Testing
Untested substrates may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
PET-CG-01
Containers smaller than or equal to 550 ml, where the label appears to cover a significant surface area (visual inspection, label specification, and testing criteria) check Preferred if
containers <= 550 ml, 55% of bottle surface area
document
SORT-B-01
SORT-B-04
document
Shrink Sleeve Labels
Pressure Sensitive Labels
Full body shrink labels, larger bottles check Preferred if
containers > 550 ml, 70% of bottle surface area
Metal Foil, metalized, and metallic printed labels unknown Needs Testing
Untested labels may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
document
Metal Sortation
Polystyrene unknown Needs Testing
Untested polystyrene may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
PET-S-05
INKS AND PIGMENTS
Label inks that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition check Preferred CG Recognition Letters document
Shrink Sleeve Labels
Pressure Sensitive Labels
Direct Printing (other than date coding) unknown Needs Testing
Untested inks may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-02
PET-CG-02
CG Recognition Letters
Metallic Inks unknown Needs Testing
Untested inks may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
document
Metal Sortation
Label inks that might stain PET flake in wash process unknown Needs Testing
Untested inks may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-02
document
Shrink Sleeve Labels
Pressure Sensitive Labels
ADHESIVES
Label Adhesives that have received APR Critical Guidance Recognition check Preferred CG Recognition Letters document
Shrink Sleeve Labels
Pressure Sensitive Labels
Standard Hot melt adhesive check Preferred
Label Adhesives that may not completely remove from PET in wash process unknown Needs Testing
Untested adhesives may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-02
PET-CG-02
document
Pressure Sensitive Labels
Acrylic Copolymer Pressure Sensitive Adhesives check Preferred if
items meet APR Critical Guidance Test Conditions
document
SORT-B-02
PET-CG-02
CG Recognition Letters
Pressure sensitive labels and adhesives check Preferred if
items meet APR Critical Guidance Test Conditions
document
SORT-B-02
PET-CG-02
CG Recognition Letters
ATTACHMENTS
Clear PET with compatible crystalline melting point check Preferred
Paper x Detrimental
Why?
Welded, regardless of resin x Detrimental
Why?
RFID x Detrimental
Why?
PS x Detrimental
Why?
PVC or PLA in any amount x Non-Recyclable
Metal, metallized, and metal containing unknown Needs Testing
Untested metals may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
document
Metal Sortation
“Composite Attribute Summary Score” –CASS
The CASS is an evaluation of the sorting potential of an item based on its dimensions. The guiding principle is that rigid plastic packaging articles that are more three-dimensional (round, cylindrical, square) will sort more efficiently in today’s MRFs than those which are more two-dimensional (flat). The evaluation applies a weighting factor to each dimension length, then assigns the score based on the summation of the adjusted dimensions. Depending on the CASS, an item may be classified as “Preferred”, or it may need to be tested to determine its actual sorting potential. The CASS is intended to be used with the Evaluation of 2D/3D Sorting Potential of Articlestest method which is under development
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.
Other Transparent Colors
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.
Opaque and White
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.
Black and Dark Colors
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.
Large size boundary
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.
Closure liners that are composites of AL 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 & shrink film safety seals made of polymers with density > 1.0
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.
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
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.
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.
Paper
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.
Paper
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, regardless of resin
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
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.
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.
APR Recognized Commercially Available Options
FreshSafe-PET®
APR Recognized Commercially Available Options
HyCat and Ultimate UV390™ HyCat and Ultimate UV390™
APR Recognized Commercially Available Options
ColorMatrix Europe

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