Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI, plastictechnologies.com) has developed a new free iPhone and Android app which helps users calculate the recyclability of their polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, containers and/or packages. The objective is to determine how compatible a specific package is with today’s recycling systems and its impact on recycled PET (rPET) production.
Brand owners are continuing to push performance boundaries by working with new resins, additives and multilayer structures to achieve longer shelf life and other attributes. The downside is that frequently little consideration is given to recycling stream impact when many of these innovations enter it. (Of particular concern is increasing the yellowness and/or haze of recycled PET.)
To help address that void, PTI has developed the PET Packaging Recycling Calculator app so that users can see how the material, barrier, additive, closure, labels, etc. decisions they make can potentially impact the next generation of PET (rPET) that is produced from these recycled containers. The calculator has been designed as a screening tool that can help users determine whether or not they should consider more in-depth testing.
The free download can be quickly located in the iTunes App Store or Google Play (formerly the Android Market) by searching for “Recycle Calc” and looking for an icon with the familiar PETE resin identification logo.
Users select the PET resin type from listed options, indicate if the package is multilayer (if so, select the second material), indicate whether or not additives, coatings or labels have been used (if so, what type), does the label release in a hot caustic wash, do inks bleed or transfer onto the PET during the wash, does the container have a closure, seal, other attachments (if so, what material) and do they float in water.
Users are then taken to a summary screen where they have the opportunity to modify any of their previous answers. When they are finished, they press the submit button which takes them to a conclusions screen. Answers fall into one of three categories: recycle guidelines appear to be met; some components appear to be problematic for recycling; or your package appears to be problematic for recycling.
PTI is one of only two U.S. companies approved by the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) to provide testing services in conjunction with the organization’s critical guidance documents. The voluntary screening guidelines help companies understand the approximate effect that their material or container might have on the quality of the rPET stream. The APR’s objective is to enhance the quality and quantity of postconsumer plastic packaging materials.
“The question that we all need to address is what is going to happen to that bottle or PET package when it is time to dispose of it? Should the consumer include it with their recyclables? Can it be easily sorted using today’s manual and automated processes? Can it be turned into high quality rPET or will it contribute to the degradation of the recycled material supply? The only way for brand owners to really be able to claim that their package is fully recyclable and meets APR guidelines is to subject it to testing that can support their position,” says Frank Schloss, vice president, PTI.
The PET Packaging Recycling Calculator is an ideal tool for brand owners, packaging engineers, plastic processors, resin producers and others involved in the PET process.