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Study says recycled PET cuts emissions by 79% compared to new material

Published 09 August 2017

A study carried out by denkstatt on behalf of Austrian converter Alpla has revealed that recycled PET (rPET) results in a much higher carbon dioxide saving than assumed earlier.

The tests were undertaken using rPET from Alpla's subsidiary PET Recycling Team and found that carbon emissions were 79% lower than new material.

Results from the study are claimed to have exceeded its previous assumptions. The rPET produced by PET Recycling Team at its Wöllersdorf had a carbon footprint of 0.45kg CO2 equivalent per kilogram of rPET.

On the other hand, virgin PET or new material accounts for a CO2 equivalent of 2.15kg of CO2 per kilogram. This represents a CO2 equivalent of 1.7kg or 79% lower greenhouse gas emissions for rPET.

The carbon footprint was calculated in accordance with ISO 14044, right from the collection and sorting used for PET bottles, which also included transportation to the recycling plant, through to washing, processing and granulation.

The basis for the analysis was the mass and energy balances (electricity and gas consumption) for 2016 at the Wöllersdorf recycling plant in Austria.

Wöllersdorf Plant manager Peter Fröschel said: “The savings for a single kilogram of rPET are enough to power a 13-watt bulb continuously for twenty days in the Austrian power mix.”

Fröschel said: “We are witnessing a clear trend towards PET packaging. And, not just in summer, when the beverage industry enjoys a boom due to hot weather. This makes it all the more important to collect used packaging and return recyclable materials to the production process. Our recycling plants play a key role in this regard.”


Image: Alpla’s study finds rPET has significantly less carbon footprint than virgin PET. Photo: Courtesy of ALPLA.