Plastic Recyclers Europe demands separate PET recycling streams

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling Polyethylene terephthalate

PET trays must be recycled separately from PET bottles, warns trade group
PET trays must be recycled separately from PET bottles, warns trade group
Plastics Recyclers Europe has warned that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and trays must be recycled separately due to potential contamination.

The body said PET trays must have their own recycling stream as they need to be sorted separately from the PET bottle streams in order to ensure resource efficiency.

Expansion of PET collection to include trays is causing issues for the recycling chain and the group called for future investments that will permit better recycling of trays.

Chemical compostition

Trays and bottles cannot be recycled and processed together due to their different chemical composition, the design which is not the same and the trays having more barrier material.

The 700,000 tonnes of PET trays yearly consumed in Europe can be recycled as valuable material if they are properly separated from other streams such as PET bottles or polyolefins, said the group.

From test results, Plastic Recyclers Europe said they see a trend to push trays into PET bottle bales which could lead to them not being useable in the marketplace due to the contamination.

The group said the issue needed to be tackled from the beginning in separate streams as a matter of efficiency from the producers to the recyclers.  

Trays and bottles difference

Casper van den Dungen, Plastics Recyclers Europe PET chairman, said: “Trays and bottles are two different types of products which cannot be recycled in the same recycling line​.

Their designs and chemical compositions are not the same and can create quality problems for existing PET recyclers.

The collection schemes and sorting centres cannot push this issue down the value chain,​” he added.

The trend will enable investments in lines able to recycle trays and improve Europe’s resource efficiency.

Plastics Recyclers Europe also warned about one-sided actions that could endanger the recycling of one of the most recycled plastics in Europe.

The machines that can handle trays are already widely available but the issue may centre around the desire to have another sorted material in the process.

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