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PET Recycling FAQs
Compiled below are some of NAPCOR's most frequently asked questions about PET recycling and reclamation and the answers to them. If you have additional questions that are not answered below, please contact NAPCOR. Also see: PET Safety FAQs.

> Should caps be removed from or left on bottles? Are caps and neck rings contaminants?
> What kind of baler should I use to bale PET?
> Is a downstroke baler OK?
> What kinds of pressures or forces should I specify to be able to bale PET?
> To get the most for my plastic bottles, how should I sort and bale them?
> Are PET cups recyclable?
> Are light blue water bottles recyclable?
> Where can my company obtain recycled-content PET bottles or thermoforms for its products?
> Are there markets for mixed bales of PET and HDPE Bottles?
> Are there markets for mixed bales of all bottles?
> Are there markets for mixed loads of some PET bales and some HDPE bales?
> Are there times when I might not be paid for the PET I have collected?
> Should my state recruit its own PET market?
> Why does my local market only want PET soda bottles?
> Why is the recycling code so hard to see?
> How are recycled PET bottles made into a carpet or other products?  Is there a visual depiction of the process?
> Is it true that PET bottles make up one-fourth of all the municipal solid waste volume?
> Why should I serve beverages packaged in PET at my event/school/sports arena?
> Why do I see so many different types of beverages packaged in PET plastic in the marketplace?

Should caps be removed from or left on bottles? Are caps and neck rings contaminants?
Bottle caps and neck rings are typically made of polypropylene or polyethylene, plastics with a specific gravity different from PET's. The difference means that caps and neck rings can be separated from bottles using a float/sink process. NAPCOR recommends crushing the empty PET container and then replacing the cap; this helps with bale compaction and allows the cap material to be captured and recycled.
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What kind of baler should I use to bale PET?
The choice of specific baling equipment at your facility should be a function of your recycling program design and budget, specific market specifications, and facility throughput requirements.
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Is a downstroke baler OK?
Yes. However, horizontal balers are considered superior, as they have a motor and piston/cylinder configuration that can achieve greater compression ratings than most downstroke, or vertical, balers.
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What kinds of pressures or forces should I specify to be able to bale PET?
Best Practices in PET Recycling
Please refer to NAPCOR's Best Practices in PET Recycling.
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To get the most for my plastic bottles, how should I sort and bale them?
Best Practices in PET Recycling
Please refer to NAPCOR's Best Practices in PET Recycling.
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Are PET cups recyclable?
Though cups are the single largest component of the PET thermoform stream, opportunities for recycling them are currently limited. The situation is changing rapidly however, as more reclaimers are making the investments necessary to handle cups, either as part of the residential thermoform stream, or as part of a recycling program with bottles at special events, stadiums, and other venues.
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Are light blue water bottles recyclable?
PET Reclaimer List
Yes. Most markets currently accept light blue bottles. They are typically mixed in with other transparent PET bottles in predominantly clear and green bales. A list of PET reclaimers can be accessed on this web site (click link above).
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Where can my company obtain recycled-content PET bottles or thermoforms for its products?
NAPCOR members
A list of NAPCOR's manufacturer members can be viewed on this web site and all have recycled content PET package products. Click on the above NAPCOR member list link and from that page, click on the green category heading for bottles or thermoforms.
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Are there markets for mixed bales of PET and HDPE Bottles?
APR Buyers and Sellers List
Yes. Contact the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) for a market list.
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Are there markets for mixed bales of all bottles?
APR Buyers & Sellers List
Yes. Contact the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) for a market list.
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Are there markets for mixed loads of some PET bales and some HDPE bales?
APR Buyers & Sellers List
Yes, they are called split loads. Contact the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) for a market list.
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Are there times when I might not be paid for the PET I have collected?
Post-consumer markets are dependent on quantity, quality, market conditions and distance to market.  PET is a commodity and is therefore subject to periodic fluctuations in the marketplace.
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Should my state recruit its own PET market?
The marketplace determines the location of reclamation plants based on current conditions including supply and demand for various geographical areas.  It is not NAPCOR’s position to either assist in recruiting reclamation facilities or determine where such facilities should be placed.  It is important to note that North American PET reclaimers purchase truckload quantities from all areas of the United States.
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Why does my local market only want PET soda bottles?
They may not be up-to-date on market conditions.  All PET bottles and jars are recyclable.  You may wish to forward this information to your market representatives or refer them here for more information.
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Why is the recycling code so hard to see?
Certain molds make it difficult to create a legible code.  In addition, the size and clarity of the recycling codes are not consistent in plastic coding laws enacted in various states.
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How are recycled PET bottles made into a carpet or other products?  Is there a visual depiction of the process?
NAPCOR Educator Resources
NAPCOR has produced an educational video that includes an overview of the PET container creation and recycling processes.  If you would like a copy this free video, please visit the NAPCOR Educator Resources page to place your order.
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Is it true that PET bottles make up one-fourth of all the municipal solid waste volume?
No. PET bottles make up less than 2% of the volume of municipal solid waste.
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Why should I serve beverages packaged in PET at my event/school/sports arena?
PET in Venues and Events
PET plastic bottles are recyclable and will decrease the volume of waste generated at your venue, as well as potentially generate revenue from the collected containers. Click on the link above and scroll down the page for links to our Single-Serve Recycling Toolkit and our Venue & Event Recycling in the USA Report.
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Why do I see so many different types of beverages packaged in PET plastic in the marketplace?
PET Basics - package features, benefits & info.
Consumers like PET packaging because it is lightweight, shatter-resistant and resealable - just right for people
on-the-go. Check out our new PET Basics document for more information.
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News & Events
December 5, 2016
Link to 2-minute "Your Bottle Means Jobs" Video
December 5, 2016
New Video Highlights Job Creation Through Plastic Bottle Recycling (link to full press release)
November 2016
Going Beyond Collection: NAPCOR looks at PET thermoform recycling opportunities and challenges in November issue of "Plastics Recycling Update"
> More News
A guide to setting up PET recycling programs outside of the conventional curbside and drop-off programs.
> learn more