As noted by the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR): due to its clarity and natural CO2 barrier properties, PET is one of the most widely used packaging resins. It is easily blown into a bottle or formed into a sheet, but does not normally have the desired properties for closures, handles, attachments or labels, so other polymers are commonly used for these items and affixed to the PET package.
PET properties can be enhanced with colorants, UV blockers, oxygen barriers/scavengers and other additives. Each modification and addition to the base, clear PET in a package must be considered for its effect on the recycling stream.
The Golden Design Rules identify single-use rigid PET as a preferred resin, but, as detailed in GDR #1 and #5, there are a number of important considerations to maximize packaging sustainability. Rigid PET is also used in reusable bottled beverage systems, for which the GDRs are also applicable.
Rigid PET Packaging Types
- Blow molded packaging: e.g., beverage bottles
- Thermoformed packaging: e.g., clamshells, trays, tubs, cups, lids, boxes, egg cartons
Sustainable Packaging Options & Uses Cases
Supporting Resources – Rigid PET specific
- Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) Design Guidelines for Rigid PET bottles: https://plasticsrecycling.org/pet-design-guidance
- From World Packaging Organization (WPO) see pp. 21-2: https://worldpackaging.org/Uploads/2021-10/ResourcePDF37_1635406572.pdf
- NAPCOR National Association for PET Container Resources: https://napcor.com, including FAQs: https://napcor.com/frequently-asked-questions/
- LCA data comparing virgin and recycled PET: https://napcor.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/VPET_RPET-LCA-Infographic.pdf
- PET Thermoform recycling info: https://napcor.com/recycling/thermoform-recycling/