Choosing the right packaging materials begins with understanding its effects upon your business, your consumers, and the environment. This article will aim to address these issues as they pertain to the food, beverage, personal, health, and home care markets; demonstrating the features of PET vs rPET to clarify which is the right choice for your products and brand. For further reading, EMBACO has recently commissioned a study which discovered that our rPET bottles reduce CO2 emissions by 82.2%, 3.2% better than market rate – click here to learn more.
Consumers care now more than ever about the impact of their purchases upon the environment. Neilsen’s Global Sustainability Report indicated that, in the US alone, consumers will spend an estimated $150 billion on sustainable products in 2021.
Of those surveyed, 73% said they would probably change behaviour to reduce their impact on the environment, and 81% of respondents felt strongly that companies should help improve the environment by implementing programs to this effect.
With large chains like Walmart and Target setting out clear sustainability statements, and many European brands following suit, it’s becoming critical for retailers that the brands they carry help to meet these sustainable goals.
Global awareness of ocean pollution and climate change have spurred regulation changes at an international level. Starting with the Single-use plastics directive adopted by all EU member states, which will ensure all packaging contributes as a sustainable part of the circular economy.
It will do this by ensuring a closed-loop process through the two missions set to be achieved before 2025. The first is that the production of new bottles always includes at least 25% rPET. The second is that 90% of all used PET bottles will be collected and reprocessed.
There could be considerable financial ramifications involved if sustainability in packaging is ignored. In many countries, governments are considering ways to promote the inclusion of recycled content in plastic packaging, with some looking to tax less sustainable efforts. For example, in the UK, a tax is being proposed for all bottles that are not produced with rPET, and this would be introduced by 2022.
These developments will have a fascinating impact on the future use and price of rPET as a commodity. It also means it is now impossible to ignore the environmental impact of packaging.
Sustainable materials are becoming more desirable as consumers consider where the packaging of their products comes from and where it is going. Brands need to be very aware of their environmental impact. Those who don’t could face a consumer backlash or boycott.
These factors combined mean CPG goods manufacturers, suppliers, and brands are facing the increasingly difficult task of having to decide for themselves which materials are more sustainable, high quality, and have the best suitability for their product ranges. Not to mention, are produced and delivered in a more economical and environmentally friendly way.
Are you working within the food, beverage, personal, health, and home care markets? Read on to learn more about PET vs rPET and decide which is right for your products and brand.
PET and rPET are both either recyclable or recycled, so both are excellent choices. They will resonate with consumers in the current market and have the potential to drive sales, as demonstrated by recent research: Recycled and Recyclable Packaging Resonates with Consumers – Neilsen
PET (or PETE, PETP, PET-P, Virgin PET) is polyethylene (or polythene) terephthalate. A form of polyester. Read more about PET here.
It is made by extracting crude oil and processing it into PET granulate that can then be formed into containers such as bottles and jars.
PET is used to make containers, bottles and jars. To learn more about the manufacturing process click here.
The following qualities and benefits of using PET are all valid for rPET, bar one: 100% pure rPET bottles may have a slightly cloudy appearance due to impurities and a lower IV. This could be an acceptable trade-off for consumers, but if not, it can be easily corrected by using a slightly less sustainable mix of rPET and PET.
Read more about the benefits of PET here
rPET is recycled polyethylene terephthalate. It is made of recycled PET that can come from either Post-consumer or Post-Industrial sources.
The key impact of rPET is in its creation – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 79%, requiring less energy to produce when compared with Virgin PET. This gives rPET a far smaller carbon footprint, at under a quarter of regular PET, 0.45 of CO2 per kg vs. 2.15 CO2 per kg.
From a business perspective, introducing more rPET into packaging means a business can identify with a broader customer base and increase sales by meeting the demand for recycled packaging and sustainable efforts. In addition, rPET use leads to greater demand and market for recycled plastics which will increase material supply and lower costs – a win-win for business and the environment.
In addition to having all of the benefits of pure PET bottles – rPET has many environmental gains:
PET and rPET have nearly all of the same qualities, which you decide to use in your business can depend on your brand values, your customer base, their values, and your budget – or re-usability, eco-friendliness and price.
rPET is the clear winner in terms of eco-friendliness – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 79% when compared with Virgin PET. However, rPET is currently more expensive than PET because high quality granulate is in lower supply.
Both are sustainable, re-usable materials as they are 100% recyclable – however, the quality of rPET can go down with the addition of colours and additives – it can still be downcycled. It is very important to work with competent designers to ensure design and labelling is effective for recycling.
Bottle and jar design and labelling have a huge impact on how easily a PET or rPET bottle can be recycled and continue through the closed-loop economy. Working with competent designers, aware of the impacts of colour, additives, closure materials, barrier systems, and labelling can mean the difference between a more or less reusable and therefore sustainable product.
“The key principles of the EPBP Design for Recycling Guidelines for PET bottles include:
Source: EPBP Design Guidelines
With 81% of people feeling strongly that companies should help improve the environment, and significant financial ramifications through taxing of non-recycled plastic use being proposed, it is now more important than ever to ensure your packaging supplier has your business’ and the environment’s best interests in mind.
Both rPET and PET are recycled or fully recyclable, which is resonating strongly with consumers right now. They are also both shatterproof, lightweight, EMA and FDA approved and perfect for food, beverage, personal, health, and home care products. But rPET is a more sustainable solution, with under a quarter of the carbon footprint of Virgin PET.
rPET is currently in limited global supply with a significantly increasing demand. Intelligent producers are introducing post-industrial recycling methods to meet demand and also sourcing PET directly from landfill. There is also an increase in post-consumer recycling efforts through return bottle schemes, subsidised by many governments. This steadily increasing supply means continually lower costs and removal of plastics from landfill, a win-win for businesses and the environment.
Speak with EMBACO today about your PET and rPET bottle and jar production needs.