Why PET Is the Most Recycled Plastic in the World

So much of the talk surrounding plastic recycling focuses on consumer plastics. And as far as that goes, products made from PET get the most attention. That’s because PET is the most recycled plastic in the world. It is also the one that gets thrown away most often. Have you ever wondered why?

Known formally as polyethylene terephthalate, PET is the preferred plastic for water bottles, food containers, and many more consumer items. It can be recycled and transformed into everything from shoes to fabrics. It is an incredibly versatile product that modern society has become very accustomed to.

Volume Plays a Big Role

Volume plays a significant role in every type of recycling. Because so much PET is manufactured around the world, there are plenty of opportunities to recycle it. That takes us back to PET’s versatility. We recycle a lot of PET because we manufacture a lot of it. And we manufacture so much because PET is so versatile.

It’s Easy to Work with

PET is ideal for plastic water and juice bottles. No other type of plastic responds well enough during manufacturing to create such small bottles. The same goes for all sorts of food and beverage containers.

Compare PET to another popular plastic: PVC. One of PET’s best attributes is its thermoforming capabilities. In simple terms, PET can be melted and then formed into a variety of shapes using injection molding or a process similar to stamping. When a molded part is cooled and dried, it gets stronger.

PVC is also a pretty durable plastic. It can withstand temperature extremes and significant impact. But it is not nearly as easy to form. It would be difficult to make a thin plastic food container from PVC due to its properties.

It’s Easy to Recycle

Manufacturing volume is only half the equation when it comes to PET recycling. PET is the world’s most recycled plastic because recycling it is extremely easy. It really doesn’t take much at all.

When we pick up a load of baled plastic bottles from one of our clients, the load goes back to one of our processing facilities where the bottles are put through a series of shredders and grinders that reduce them to a very fine material. We sell that material to manufacturers intending to use it for end products.

We are not the only company that does what we do, by the way. Similar recyclers all around the country recycle both PET and industrial scrap plastic. But if we can do it, why can’t your local municipality? It boils down to a single word: sorting.

We Don’t Have to Sort

The one thing that sets industrial plastic recycling apart from municipal recycling is sorting. Simply put, we don’t have to sort. We require that all PET bottles be kept separate. We also require that they be baled when we pick them up. Likewise, if we agree to purchase a load of plastic pallets, that load cannot have any other items in it.

Municipal recycling programs constantly run into financial challenges because they need to sort materials. They need to separate plastic from glass from paper. Not only that, but loads are also often contaminated with trash. Sometimes they can successfully segregate recyclables from trash; most of the time they cannot.

At any rate, now you know why PET is the most recycled plastic in the world. We collectively generate a ton of it. Thankfully, it is easy to recycle.