Phoenix Technologies Determines 50% rPET As Target Bottle Goal

With sustainability activities ramping up among many more companies across the globe, Phoenix Technologies says it’s important to understand how those efforts will be impacted by material availability.

Many big brands have committed to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 or earlier. But there are questions that come with those pledges: how will those efforts be impacted by material availability, and what will the impact of higher recycling content levels be on future lifecycles?

Phoenix Technologies International, a global producer of recycled rPET manufacturing, believes that 50% rPET is the ideal recycled bottle content to help meet sustainability objectives and avoid compromising the recycling stream for future lifecycles.

Related Stories

“We believe an average of 50% is the most ideal because of concerns with bottle appearance as you recycle materials over and over again, and because, today, even 50% would be hard to achieve due to the current level of supply and competing demands for rPET,” Lori Carson, director of commercial services, Phoenix Technologies told Plastics Technology.

According to NAPCOR, the 2016 PET bottle recycling rate was 28.4%, which means that roughly three out of four PET bottles are never collected. Approximately 40% of the material that is collected is processed into textiles and carpet. The end result is only one in seven post-consumer bottles are reprocessed into next generation rPET flake for use in new bottles.

In addition to the recycling statistics, the other important factor is aesthetics. When bottles start moving closer to 100% rPET content, yellowing and hazing may occur.

“Bottles that use 50% rPET are still 50% virgin. Because that percentage is still relatively low, when you introduce those bottles into the recycling stream, we anticipate minimal visual impact on subsequent lifecycles. The same doesn’t hold true when bottles are at 100% rPET,” says Ron Ott, president and chief operating officer, Phoenix Technologies.

The big challenge for brand owners and consumers is to increase the number of bottles that make their way into recycling facilities. Doing so will have a positive impact on the amount of recycled content available and will minimize impact on landfill, oceans and litter.

“Phoenix is already processing approximately one out of every 20 collected PET bottles into rPET. The current recycling rate would need to triple in order to have enough material to produce 50% rPET bottles across all product categories. We encourage everyone to do their part to make sure that number increases, so that there are enough bales to process in order to meet both current and future demand,” Ott says.