In the world of plastics, there are different types of synthetic materials. One of them is PET (polyethylene terephthalate). It belongs to the polyester group, a plastic raw material derived from petroleum. Many people don’t know what PET is? It was discovered in 1941 by British scientists Whinfield and Dickson, who patented it as a polymer used to make fibers.
Use this article below to tell you what PET is, what its properties are and what it is used for.
PET material has the following characteristics that make it a practical and good building material:
- PET can be processed by blow molding, injection, and extrusion. Suitable for the production of cans, bottles, films, foils, plates and parts.
- PET has a magnifying effect of transparency and gloss.
- PET has excellent mechanical properties.
- PET can block gases.
- PET can be biooriented and crystallized.
- PET can be sterilized by gamma and ethylene oxide.
- PET is fully recyclable.
Disadvantages and advantages of PET
Like all materials, PET has some disadvantages. Dryness is one of its main drawbacks. All polyesters must be dried to avoid loss of properties. The humidity of the polymer entering the process must be a maximum of 0.005%. Equipment cost and temperature are also a disadvantage. Bio-directed injection blow molding equipment represents a good return based on mass production. In blow molding and extrusion, conventional PVC equipment can be used, with more versatility, and can produce different sizes and shapes.
When the temperature exceeds 70 degrees, polyester cannot maintain good performance. Improvements were made by modifying the equipment to allow hot filling. Crystalline (opaque) PET has good temperature resistance up to 230°C. It is not recommended for long-term outdoor use.
Now continue to analyze what its advantages are: PET has unique properties, good availability and easy recycling. PET has clarity, gloss, transparency, gas or aroma barrier, impact strength, thermoformability, ease of printing with ink, and allows for microwave cooking.
PET can be recycled to produce a material called RPET. Unfortunately, due to the temperatures involved in the process, RPET cannot be used to produce packaging for the food industry.
What are the uses of PET?
Recyclable plastic containers and bottles. Thermoplastics are widely used in the production of containers or beverages, such as soft drinks and water bottles. Due to its rigidity and hardness, it has become an everyday material in the industrial sector. While it also affects the fact that it is fully recyclable, the fact that it contributes to the manufacture of many other plastic bottles and containers is measured.
Various textiles. PET is a plastic used in the textile industry to make different garments. In fact, it’s an excellent alternative to linen or even cotton.
Film or photographic film. This plastic polymer is also used in the manufacture of various photographic films. Still, it’s great for creating basic x-ray paper.
Machine made. Polyethylene terephthalate is used in the manufacture of various vending and arcade machines.
lighting project. It is used to make lamps of different designs. In fact, PET has proven to be one of the most attractive materials for lighting design, both exterior and interior.
other advertising elements. For example, posters or signs for visual communication. Also, it is often used as an ideal material for creating displays in shops and various fairs or events.
Design transparency and flexibility: Thanks to these two properties, consumers can see what they are buying, and manufacturers have multiple display possibilities.
There are several main reasons why PET packaging is considered more environmentally sustainable. These are the reasons:
Reduce the energy and resource consumption of its manufacture
Over the years, technological developments have reduced the resources required to manufacture PET packaging, as well as the energy consumption in the manufacturing process. In addition, its portability means that the cost and environmental impact during transport will be reduced as there is less overhead.
Several studies have also shown that PET packaging reduces its carbon footprint by generating less solid waste and energy consumption in production equipment compared to other materials.
It is widely believed that PET containers can only be recycled a few times, the truth is that if an effective recycling process is implemented, it is a material that can be recycled indefinitely, depending on the purpose of use.
Currently, PET is the most recycled plastic in the world. In fact, in Spain, 44% of the packaging on the market is secondary. The percentage must be increased to 55% by 2025, in line with the circular economy strategy agreed by the European Commission.
In addition to being reused as a food material, recycled PET is also used in the textile, automotive and furniture manufacturing industries.
Therefore, we can conclude that PET containers are safe and sustainable for the environment. Not only because of their huge recycling possibilities, but also because of their energy efficiency in the manufacturing process.