A report by Plastic Technologies (PTI) said that an opportunity to create a market for non-colored problematic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles may be available that does not exist today.
The use of PET for packaging has seen good growth because of the material’s ability to offer light weighting options, container designs, clarity, long shelf life and recyclability.
PTI said only non-coloured and lightly-tinted blue PET bottles offer reclaimers a high value in today’s recycle market.
The company noted that rigorous performance testing is needed to, firstly understand how can such incorporated PET bottles might impact amber recycle stream.
Today, there is a market for high-quality, uncoloured PET bottles, but the same might not be true for most coloured alternatives.
However, if relatively the usage of low volume PET is used for amber carbonated soft drink, beer and pharmaceutical PET packaging increases, then items returned for recycling can reach a significant level to have their own recycling stream.
Besides this, brand owners can also be pressurised to demonstrate that these packages can be sustainably reused to produce new amber recycle-content bottles.
As per the report, the use of PET to produce bottles and containers for products that are oxygen sensitive as well as carbonated beverage is limited to an extent by its barrier properties. Such limitations can be overcome by using oxygen scavengers, multilayer structures and plasma coatings.
Unfortunately, other than some plasma coating options, such barrier solutions pose difficulties during recycling. Oxygen scavenger and multilayer barrier bottles when being recycled, can turn yellow after the melt reprocessing takes place.
This has resulted that several brand owners who want to support sustainability initiatives by producing recyclable bottles have shied away from some technical developments that could add right-weighting or longer shelf lives.
Frank Schloss of Plastic Technologies said: “The goal is to find a way to allow clear, but problematic bottles, that yellow when recycled to benefit an amber recycling stream. It’s possible that yellowing can be offset by blending them with amber colored bottles to yield an acceptable amber color for reuse,”.
Schloss said: “Now is the time to begin addressing this issue. The goal is to how best to handle an amber colored bottle stream, and other problematic PET bottles, so that value can be added to the recycling stream in the future.”