ActiTUF grades for use in clear and light blue bottles met all protocol requirements except for colour and haze in the bottle-to-bottle test protocol. Given low market penetrations and expected improvements in sorting technologies, the committee decided to endorse such ActiTUF applications for a limited period of two years.
The approval suggests that the PET barrier beverage segment is still dynamic and highly innovative. In the UK, PET bottles have recorded significant volume increases in soft drinks in the last few years, gradually replacing metal beverage cans and glass bottles because they are lightweight, shatterproof and transparent.
Between 1998 and 2002, PET bottles rose by 34 per cent to achieve volumes of 4.8 billion units.
"We continue to see significant growth in PET barrier beverage segments like beer, fruit juices, dairy and small carbonated soft drink bottles," said Karl Schöpf, Petcore's new technical director from 1st January 2005, who will also act as chairman of the expert evaluation committee.
"This is why Petcore and its members will actively pursue the development of next-generation sorting technologies while maintaining a high standard on our recyclability test protocols."
PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) is a strong but lightweight form of clear polyester. It is used to make containers for soft drinks, juices, alcoholic drinks, water, edible oils, household cleaners, and other food and non-food applications. Bottles now represent the most significant use of PET moulding resins.
PET's major advantage is the strength of the material. Carbonated soft drinks can generate pressure inside the bottle reaching up to 6 bar. Such high pressure however, thanks to the alignment of macromolecules (cristallisation) occurring both during the resin spinning process and the blow-moulding process, is not capable of deforming the bottle nor can it make the bottle explode.
Another striking feature of PET is that it is fully recyclable. PET bottle recycling rates have continually increased, with the number of European PET bales offered to the recycling markets jumping from 449,000 tonnes in 2002 to 612,000 tonnes in 2003.
Petcore, PET containers recycling Europe, is a non-profit European association designed to foster the use and development of PET containers. It was set up in 1993 by resin producing companies.