PET (Polyethylene Terephtalate) is one of the most commonly used polymers in packaging, including food packaging (peanut butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing) and beverage (soft drink, water, beer) bottles, and consumer packaging of all types. It’s also the most recycled plastic in America, according to information from www.petresin.org, and displays the #1 in the chasing arrows recycling symbol.
Because of that fact, there’s a big demand for recycled PET (RPET), which has been in short supply over the past few years. RPET is in high demand particularly for thermoforming applications, due to the PET’s recyclability. PET can be recycled multiple times yet maintains its properties such as its inherent barrier properties to preserve the food and beverages and extend shelf life, which make it such a popular material.
According to NAPCOR (The Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers), the U.S. recycling rate for PET is 30.8%, in 2012 (the last year for which figures are available), with a total volume of postconsumer PET bottles collected, the highest reported to that date--1.718 billion pounds. “The increase in the PET recycling rate is clear evidence of continued strong, domestic end-market demand for recycled PET, and we believe there’s considerable scope for U.S. industry to readily absorb more recycled PET material if available,” said Tom Busard, Chairman of both NAPCOR (www.napcor.com) and APR (The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers).
That fact contributes in large part to the price stability of PET. At one point, about a year ago, converters (processors) were reporting that they were seeing prices for RPET at the same levels as virgin resin.
A recent glitch in the supply chain has caused an increase in PET, as reported in the Sept. 15 issue of Plastics News which noted that PET bottle resin rose by “an average of 2 cents per pound in August due in part to a shortage of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) feedstock caused by a fire at a British Petroleum plant in South Carolina.” This tightness in PTA has caused a shortage with market sources citing “BP is allocating supplies of PTA and filling customer orders at a 60-80% rate.”
Because of PET’s popularity and broad applications suitability, Plastics Color Corporation developed its new line of colors specifically for PET: SoluPET™, which provides ready-made and custom solutions for PET in food contact, pharmaceutical and neutraceutical. All SoluPET colors are FDA compliant and meet U.S. Pharmacopeia requirements for light transmission and other metrics.