While PET (polyethylene tetraphthalate, used for drinks bottles) is technically 100% recyclable, much of it ends up as litter in the environment.
Why? Most uses for PET are in food and drink packaging. Using recycled PET in food and drink packaging is costly because the material needs to be clean enough to meet food-grade hygiene standards.
What else can recycled PET be used for?
- Ecobricks are made by filling PET bottles with sand or flexible plastic, then used as building blocks.
- PET can be melted and reformed but it tends to become very brittle.
- Using expensive machinery, PET can be processed into polyester blankets and fleece jackets, but there are growing concerns about plastic microfibres escaping into the environment.
While we are campaigning for a reduction in single-use PET, we also acknowledge that communities today are struggling with the waste material. We are looking for ways that people in low-income countries can make use of PET and keep it out of dumpsites and the ocean. To be accessible, processes should be low-tech and low-cost (or free), using readily available tools and materials. The final product will ideally be something that can use fairly large quantities of PET.