Plastics Recyclers Europe has said that companies switching from HDPE to PET for packaging are putting PET recycling at risk.
In a statement, the organisation said that it is increasingly seeing the markets for milk packaging, home and personal care switching from HDPE to PET for cost, marketing and sustainability reasons.
But because these products are typically packaged in colourful packaging for marketing reasons, this market shift could bring about more than 300,000 additional tonnes of coloured PET, including black and white, according to the organisation.
The statement said: “The PET recycling markets cannot afford to absorb these extra colours.
“If collected and sorted together, these numerous coloured containers will need extra sorting in the PET recycling plants.
“In order for recyclers to sell this coloured fraction, the material will have to be tinted in black or grey, but no market currently exists in such a material in high quantities.”
The statement said that there is also a risk of PET getting contaminated from PET milk bottles that contain the ingredient TiO2, which would lead to a haze effect.
It added: “These ‘colourful’ future trends will weaken the image of PET as a recycled product. Additionally, it will create great difficulties for the PET recycling industry, which already has other market barriers to overcome.
“Furthermore, the existing HDPE recycling industry, which already has a market for coloured HDPE applications (eg the pipe industry) will suffer if coloured PET continues to grow.”