Recycling waste and plastic bottles


Written by Julie Kerry
Le 22 January 2024

At a time when climate issues are at the heart of every debate, recycling is one of the most relevant solutions. On the one hand, it saves natural resources by using waste as a source of raw materials. On the other, it helps to reduce the amount of waste left to decay in nature.

The climate emergency is now! Faced with over-consumption and pollution, it's up to businesses to set an example.

What is PET?

Since the 1990s, PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate has been the most widely used polymer in the design of plastic bottles. It is so popular because of its many advantages, including its suitability for contact with food, its lightness and strength, and above all its recyclability. What's more, it is subject to the sorting instructions for plastic materials.

The PET symbol is easy to recognise on packaging. It consists of the number 1 surrounded by arrows arranged in triangles.

In France, 310,000 tonnes of PET plastic bottles are produced every year. Worse still, 25 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day. It has to be said that recycling is still not widespread enough.

How are PET plastic bottles recycled?

Once the recyclable plastic bottles and packaging have been placed in the appropriate sorting bin, they are collected and taken to the sorting centres. There they are processed and transformed into new articles such as polyester clothing fibre.

The transformation process follows 4 main stages:

  • Grinding, cleaning and drying
    This stage involves crushing the bottles into flakes, immersing them in water and then rubbing them to remove glue residues and other impurities.
  • Casting and final processing
    The PET flakes then enter an extrusion phase, where they are melted at 280°C to form pellets.
  • A new life for PET granules
    The PET granules obtained are then used to manufacture PET fibres.
  • Thread : To obtain the polyester yarn, the granules are melted again and extruded.

Benefits and challenges of rPET

There are many advantages to recycling PET. But it also presents a number of challenges.

  • The benefits of rPET

Let's start with the benefits of recycling PET plastic.

The main advantage of recycling is obviously ecological. It considerably reduces the amount of plastic that is incinerated, ends up in open dumps or ends up in the environment. This environmental challenge has also prompted the relevant authorities to set a target of recycling 50 % of all plastic in Europe by 2025.

Also from an environmental point of view, recycling reduces the use of natural resources such as oil and gas. For example, 1 tonne of recycled plastic bottles saves up to 800 kg of crude oil. What's more, the use of recycled PET or rPET helps to reduce CO2 emissions from incinerators and the production of virgin PET.

As well as being eco-responsible, recycling has a social and technological dimension, helping to create jobs while stimulating innovation in recycling.

It should be noted that rPET has nothing to envy from virgin PET. Although it is made from recycled materials, it retains the same characteristics and performance.

  • The challenges of rPET

Despite the many advantages offered by PET recycling, the process has certain limitations, particularly when it comes to processing black PET. Black PET generally contains carbon black, which unfortunately makes it undetectable by sorting systems. However, alternative solutions are currently being put in place to process these types of plastic.

In addition, the selective sorting of white opaque PET bottles presents a certain difficulty due to the high level of TiO2 in its composition.

Finally, recycling in itself is no longer enough. If it is to have a greater impact on our ecosystem, it must be part of a coherent approach that takes into account the entire production chain.

Subli Sport and rPET

We are committed to offering sustainable products that respect the environment. That's why 90 % of our technical fabrics are made from polyester recycled from used PET plastic bottles. For some fabrics, there is currently no eco-responsible alternative. However, with the help of our suppliers, we are working relentlessly to aim for 100 % of recyclable and recycled materials.

As well as helping to eliminate millions of plastic bottles from the environment, rPET makes it possible to design high-quality garments that are comfortable, hard-wearing and durable.

In addition to reducing our environmental footprint through the use of rPET, we also donate 1 % of our turnover to the 1 % For the Planet collective.

Don't wait any longer, switch to rPET too!

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