What is PET

recyclable plastic

Within the world of plastics there are different types of synthetic materials. One of them is PET (Poly Ethylene Terephthalate). It belongs to the group of polyesters and is a type of plastic raw material derived from petroleum. Many people don't know what is PET. It was discovered by the British scientists Whinfield and Dickson, in 1941, who patented it as a polymer for the manufacture of fibers. It is very useful today.

Therefore, we are going to dedicate this article to tell you what PET is, what its characteristics are and what it is for.

What is PET

plastic pet bottles

This material has the following characteristics, which have made it a practical and good material for construction:

  • Processable by blowing, injection, extrusion. Suitable for producing jars, bottles, films, foils, plates and parts.
  • Transparency and gloss with magnifying effect.
  • Excellent mechanical properties.
  • Gas barrier.
  • Bio-orientable-crystallizable.
  • Sterilizable by gamma and ethylene oxide.
  • Cost / performance.
  • Ranked # 1 in recycling.
  • Lightweight

Disadvantages and advantages

types of plastics

Like all materials, there are also some disadvantages over PET. Drying is one of its main disadvantages. All polyester must be dried in order to avoid loss of properties. The humidity of the polymer when entering the process must be a maximum of 0.005%. The cost of equipment is also a disadvantage, as is the temperature. Biologically oriented injection blow molding equipment represents a good payback based on mass production. In blow molding and extrusion, conventional PVC equipment can be used, which has more versatility to produce different sizes and shapes.

When the temperature exceeds 70 degrees, the polyester cannot maintain good performance. Improvements were made by modifying the equipment to allow hot filling. Crystalline (opaque) PET has good temperature resistance, up to 230 ° C. Not recommended for permanent outdoor use.

Now we go on to analyze what its advantages are: we have unique properties, good availability and great recycling. Among its good properties we have clarity, brightness, transparency, barrier properties to gases or aromas, impact power, thermoformability, easy to print with ink, allowing microwave cooking.

The price of PET has fluctuated less than other polymers like PVC-PP-LDPE-GPPS in the last 5 years. Today, PET is produced in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and South Africa. PET can be recycled to produce a material called RPET. Unfortunately, due to the temperatures involved in the process, RPET cannot be used to produce packaging in the food industry.

What things use PET

There are different things made from polyethylene terephthalate or PET. The following are some elements and materials made with this recyclable thermoplastic:

  • Recyclable plastic containers and bottles. Thermoplastics are widely used in the production of containers or beverages, such as soft drinks and water bottles. Due to its rigidity and hardness, it has become a material for daily use in the industrial sector. Although it also affects the fact that it can be completely recycled, the fact that it helps to make many other plastic bottles and containers is measured.
  • Various textiles. PET It is a type of plastic used in the textile industry to make different garments. In fact, it is an excellent substitute for linen or even cotton.
  • Film or photographic film. This plastic polymer is also used to make various photographic films. Although, it is also very useful for creating the basic X-ray printing paper.
  • Machine made. Today, polyethylene terephthalate is used to make various vending machines and arcade machines.
  • Lighting projects. It is used to make lamps of different designs. In fact, PET has proven to be one of the most attractive materials in lighting design, be it exterior or interior.
  • Other advertising elements. For example, posters or signs for visual communication. Similarly, it is often used as an ideal material for the creation of displays in shops and various trade shows or events.
  • Design transparency and flexibility: Due to these two characteristics, consumers can see inside what they buy and manufacturers have multiple display possibilities.

Sustainable PET packaging

There are a few main reasons why PET packaging is considered more environmentally friendly. These are the reasons:

Lower consumption of energy and resources for its manufacture

Over the years, the development of technology has reduced the resources required to manufacture PET packaging and also energy consumption in the manufacturing process has been reduced. In addition, its portability means that the cost and the impact on the environment will be reduced during transport, because there is less overhead.

Several studies have also shown that, compared to other materials, PET packaging reduces the carbon footprint by generating less solid waste and less energy consumption of production equipment.

Better recycling

It is generally believed that PET containers can only be recycled a few times, the truth is that it is a material that can be recycled indefinitely if an effective recycling process is implemented, depending on the purpose to be used.

Today, PET is the most recycled plastic in the worldIn fact, in Spain, 44% of the packaging on the market is used for secondary use. A percentage must be increased to 55% in 2025 to comply with the circular economy strategy agreed by the European Commission.

In addition to being reused as a food material, recycled PET is also used in the textile, automotive and furniture manufacturing industries. It also has the security of using recycled PET containers in food and beverages. The European Food Safety Agency has certified that it is a safe material, and is used for the commercialization and use of raw materials based on recycled PET obtained in water and soft drinks in Spain by Royal Decree 517/2013 authorizes that the final container must contain at least 50% virgin PET.

Therefore, we can conclude that PET containers are safe and sustainable for the environment, not only because of their enormous recycling possibilities, but also because of their energy efficiency in the manufacturing process. I hope that with this information you can learn more about what PET is and its characteristics.

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