The most common container in the soft drink market today in South Africa is the plastic bottle, or more specifically, the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle. PET is the type of plastic labelled with the #1 polymer identification code on or near the bottom of bottles and containers, and is sometimes referred to as polyester.
It’s eassy to recognise a PET container – it’s the transparent, rigid container used to package bottled water, carbonated soft drinks (CSD’s), sports drinks, water, household cleaners and food trays. But PET is a popular package for both food and non-food products.
Why do we use it?
- Manufacturers use PET plastic to package products because of its strength, thermo-stability and transparency.
- Retailers use PET because it promotes high product visibility, it’s light weight facilitates shelf stacking and it’s shatterproof quality ensures safety in-store as well as product integrity.
- Consumers choose PET because it is portable, lightweight, re-sealable for efficient on-the-go hydration, 100% safe and 100% recyclable.
Discarded PET bottles are collected, baled and delivered to the recycling plant. Here they are colour sorted, flaked, washed, extruded and cut into PET (rPET) pellets. This is then manufactured into a number of items we encounter every day, such as fibre filling for jackets, duvets and pillows, non-woven car carpets, roof insulation, geotextiles and now, even back into both food and non-food packaging.
Why would I bother to have my PET plastic recycled?
- Plastic bottles are valuable and create income opportunities on the collection side.
- Increasing plastic bottle recycling leads to job creation in the waste management, product development, manufacturing and marketing sectors.
- Recycling reduces landfill requirements, thus increasing the life of landfill sites and cutting disposal costs. Landfill costs are set to rapidly increase over coming years.
- Recycling demand for plastic bottles outstrips supply and South African recyclers have the capacity for an increased number of bottles for reprocessing.
- Plastic bottle recycling provides a valuable public service. The public want to recycle plastics and there is high demand for this service.
- Plastics are the material of choice for many manufacturers and will form an increasing proportion of household waste in the future. Research conducted by the UK based recycling organization Recoup, has shown that if plastics were no longer used in packaging the weight of packaging materials would rise by 300%, the volume of rubbish would expand by 150% and the energy consumed by the packaging industry would increase by 100%.
- Approximately 12% of household waste is packaging waste. Estimates are that some 3% of this, by weight, is plastic bottles (approx 98,000 tons/year in SA). They are easy for the public to identify and remove from the residual waste stream.
- Plastic bottles are widely used, abundant and very visual. There is the potential to remove a significant amount of volume from the waste stream.
- Local authorities will be obliged to increase recovery, recycling and composting of household waste to reach mandatory Government targets.
- Recycling 1 ton of plastic bottles saves 1.5 ton of carbon. Recycling plastic bottles decreases the need for raw materials and saves energy.
New drop-off in Durban
PETCO was thrilled recently to become a co-sponsor of the new drop-off site at Makro in Springfield Park, Durban.
‘We are confident that more drop-off sites will be rolled out to the other thirteen Makro stores in the country in due course,’ says Caron Dixon, Project Manager.
Packaging material including plastic products, paper products, cans, glass and tetrapak can be dropped off here.
‘We hope to receive loads of uncontaminated post-consumer PET,’ says PETCO CEO, Cheri Scholtz.
With great consumption comes great responsibility
As a society we now consume more of everything. But with consumption comes waste and with waste comes responsibility.
We only have one world and it’s up to all of us to look after it.
The plastics industry is more than aware of its responsibilities in a developing world. That’s why we are doing everything we can to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover our products.
Finding new uses for bottle caps
Finally, here is a great idea for re-using a plastic bottle cap.
Cut an incision right at the neck:
Stick the plastic bag through the neck of the bottle, which you have must cut off. Screw the top back on to seal the opened packet.
I’ve tried it – it works! Very clever.
Please don’t throw you PET away – ensure it’s recycled.