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PET Sustainability

What is PET?

PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, and is a form of polyester. PET containers are easily identified by the #1 code on or near the bottom. PET is a transparent, lightweight, strong, safe, shatterproof and recyclable packaging material with an inherent barrier suitable for a wide array of product applications.

PET is commonly used to package soft drinks, water, juice, peanut butter, salad dressings, beer and increasingly for wine and spirits. PET can also be produced in sheet form, then formed into cups and rigid packaging for items such as berries, cakes, pies, salads and other deli selections.

What is a Sustainable Package?

First and foremost, a sustainable package must serve its essential function: to protect the product it contains, delivering it safely with all of its features and benefits intact. Beyond this, sustainable package manufacturers look to reduce the environmental footprint of their package wherever possible through renewable or reduced energy use; reduction of the necessary raw materials and other resources; use of design-for-recycling principles; incorporation of recycled content back into the package; and sound, accessible end-of-life options for that package, such as recycling.

Why is PET a Sustainable Packaging Option?

  • PET has good barrier properties that protect and preserve the contents of its package.
  • PET is a shatterproof, re-sealable, safe package option for both home and away from home applications.
  • PET is approved as safe for food and beverage contact by the FDA; it is biologically inert if ingested, dermally safe during handling, and is not a hazard if inhaled.
  • PET is lightweight.
  • Products packaged in PET can be packed and shipped efficiently, enabling lighter secondary packaging and reducing fuel requirements and greenhouse gas emissions during transport. PET’s unique geometric properties and inherent barrier properties create a package that is extremely light and unbreakable; this allows packaging manufactures to use less plastic resin per package while maintaining the strength and integrity of that package. Less raw material use means a reduced environmental footprint.
  • PET is the most widely recycled plastic in the world.
  • Virtually all recycling programs in the US accept PET containers
  • PET can be recycled multiple times and is being recycled into a variety of end products: fiber, fiberfill (for pillows and jackets), carpeting, car parts, strapping, food and non-food bottles, and other containers, such as cups, trays, and take-out clamshells.
  • Nearly 1.8 billion pounds of PET were recycled in 2013, and over 1.5 billion pounds of recycled PET material were used in the manufacture of U.S. and Canadian end products.

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