What is RPET?
What is RPET?
RPET is the abbreviation for recycled polyethylene tetraphyte. We will explain PET in more detail below. For now, you should know that it is the fourth most commonly used plastic resin worldwide. It is used in everything, from clothing to food packaging. The word "RPET" simply means that PET used in the product you are looking at should be recycled from a pre-existing source.
What is polyethylene triphyte (PET), and how does it work?
Without getting too technical, all plastics you have used have been made from one specific polymer. Your PVC milk bottle may have been made from a different type of polymer than the PET water bottle.
PET is made from crude oil. It is extremely harmful to the environment to extract crude oil from the ground. Molten PET is made by taking an alcohol called ethylene, and mixing it with Terephthalic Acid. This is when the products form a bond, which we call esterification. It creates a long-chain polymer called PET.
The final product's performance is what we choose when choosing polymers. PET is a thermoplastic which means it can easily be molded into desired shapes when heated, but it will still retain its strength when cool down. PET is a popular choice for packaging food and drinks because it is light, non-toxic, and durable.
Is PET only used for packaging?
No. No. Many clothes you own are likely to be made of PET, although polyester is the more common name for it. Instead of letting PET mold into a container shape, PET is spun through a spinnerate, which is almost like a showerhead, to create long strands. You can make a durable, lightweight, and inexpensive fabric by tying enough of these together. The entire textile industry depends on polyester, the most widely used man-made fiber. Polyester is much easier to make than cotton and is resistant to price increases due to weather conditions. Polyester is likely to be in the clothing you are wearing. Polyester's strength and light weight make it a popular material for tents, conveyor belts, and film reels. Polyester can be used for almost any purpose that requires lightweight and durability.
PET: The good and bad
PET is extremely durable, versatile, and cheaper than other plastics. PET can also be recycled and reused, which is a major advantage over other plastics. Only 3% of PET bottles could be recycled in the UK in 2001. This number has risen to 60% in 2014, thanks to PET bottle producers moving to PET production whenever possible and increased national recycling initiatives that make it easier for people recycle.
PET's greatest strength is also its biggest problem. Because PET is a very durable compound, it can take 700 years for it to be broken down into soil. If it ends up in a landfill, it will take another 700 years. While PET recycling has improved dramatically in the past ten years, there is still much to be done. Some parts of the world have mountains that are the size of small towns filled with PET plastic. These landfills are being exacerbated by our heavy PET use.
Because PET is such a durable material, it takes 700 years to degrade it should it end up as a landfill. Some parts of the world have mountains that are the same size as small cities and filled with PET plastic.
How does RPET address the problem of plastic pollution?
RPET is a process that takes pre-made plastic, such as plastic bottles, and cuts it into small flakes. The PET core ingredient is then separated from the bottles by melting the flakes. The PET can then be used for making anything, from sweaters to plastic bottles. It uses up to half the energy of making PET from scratch and ensures that these bottles don't end-up in landfills by using pre-made bottles. We can also leave the planet the way it is. Instead of extracting the essential ingredient through the extremely damaging process of crude oil primary mining, we use a product that has been in surplus and could otherwise have ended up in landfill.