Reduce, recover, recycle, re-use
PET post-consumer can be economically and efficiently recovered and reused. According to the RECOUP Household Survey 2015, 492,623 tonnes of plastic packaging was collected from households in 2014/15. This represents an increase of 6.1% in rigid plastic packaging collected, 3.5% in plastic bottles and 12.1% of pots, tubs and trays. The recycling rate for plastic bottles is 57% and for pots, tubs and trays it is 30. Esterform has invested in new blending capabilities to allow the direct sourcing of process post consumer recovered PET.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Life cycle assessments of packaging materials follow the material from cradle to grave identifying the environmental impact at each stage. In the case of virgin PET it starts with the extraction of oil or gas and ends with the disposal of the used material (normally recycled). It also takes account on the percentage of RPET used in production.
The assessment covers the PET material and its component elements (or RPET), the energy used for extraction, conversion, transport/handling, recovery and recycling, and wastage.
Source reduction (the reduction both in the quantity of material used and the energy required for the material cradle to grave) is a key objective for sustainable packaging. In the last 20 years the typical weight of a 500ml bottle, for example, has declined from over 30g in weight to less than 14g today. This has resulted in significant source reduction.
In the light of life cycle assessments of packaging materials the environmental impact of PET compares favourably with glass, aluminium and other container materials.
Low energy use
PET’s exceptional capacity-to-weight ratio is a key to its energy efficiency. This minimises the energy required for the conversion of PET into containers. More product can be packed per weight of PET than almost any other packaging material. The energy required for handling and transporting both filled and empty packs is also minimised by the low weight of PET.
Recent capital investment programs include the reduction of energy consumption, reduced process scrap, and technology with allows for product weight reduction.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Overall the advantages of PET outlined above combined with internal energy efficiency and waste reduction initiatives, minimises the carbon footprint of the preforms, bottles and containers supplied by Esterform. This consequently reduces the emission of greenhouse gases during the life cycle of the materials.
Packaging recovery notes (PRNs)
In the UK, The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 set out the implications and costs of packaging material choice at every link in the supply chain. The Regulations impose charges on the packaging used by fillers and retailers via payments made for PRNs (Packaging recovery notes). PRN charges are greatly reduced for both the filler and the retailer when a pack changes from glass to PET because of the significant weight reduction.