What do PET and rPET mean?

PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is a type of plastic often used to create food-grade containers, like bottles for water and other drinks.

PET can also be used in:

  • Textiles: clothing, carpets, filling for duvets and pillows
  • Building materials: insulation, flooring
  • Car industry: plastic, filling for seats, baby seats
  • Furniture: seating, bins, benches
  • Toys
  • Non-food grade containers

rPET stands for recycled PET. In fact, PET is highly recyclable, and using rPET saves large amounts of energy and greenhouse gas emissions when compared to virgin PET, which is a petroleum product. Recycling also helps prevent plastic from ending up in the environment, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose naturally.

Even though PET is easily reused, there is currently a lack of supply across the industry*, in part because only about 10% of the plastic the world produces every year gets recycled. As beverage companies and other industrial users of plastic seek to use more and more recycled PET in their packaging, the added demand should spur investment into greater capacity for collecting and processing plastic waste into the rPET pellets that can then be reformed into new products.

*Reports from NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources) and PETCORE (PET Containers Recycling Europe) in 2010.