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The large increase in the consumption of plastic materials from polyethylene terephthalate Or, known by its acronym in English, PET plastic, is contributing to environmental pollution. Around 13 million tons are consumed worldwide. Therefore, reusing the waste generated with this type of plastic or recycling it correctly is, without a doubt, a very important gesture to reduce pollution in the environment.
This interesting article by Ecologist Verde will talk about how to recycle PET, from when we have it at home to its recycling process at the plant. Likewise, some ideas will be shown to be able to reuse and recycle this material and the benefits of doing so will be discussed.
How can PET be recycled?
Within recyclable plastics there are different categories, exactly seven, so sometimes it can be confusing to know how to recycle plastic at home having so much variety of plastics.
How to know that a plastic is PET? It is very simple, the containers have symbols that allow us to identify the type of plastic with which it is made. For example, the PET identifies with him number 1 within a triangle formed with arrows. The most common containers made with this type of plastic are soda bottles, water bottles and trays. Thus, at home we can already separate plastics from other waste, but if we want to take advantage of PET to reuse it, we already know how to differentiate it.
These containers with this symbol must be deposited in the yellow container, which will be collected by a truck authorized to transport them to a sorting plant. As in the yellow container, in addition to this type of plastic, other plastics and aluminum cans are deposited, a classification is carried out before the waste is sent to its corresponding recyclers, where the waste will become a new useful product. To better understand all this, we encourage you to read this other article on Which plastics are recycled and which are not.
Do not forget that, although recycle PET It is an action that must be carried out to reduce the impacts on the environment, reuse must be the option that must first be valued and, even before this option, it is necessary to remember to reduce the consumption of plastic products.
Also, here you can find a practical guide on How to recycle plastic at home.
The PET recycling process
Once PET 1 plastic waste reaches recycling plants, it can go through chemical or mechanical recycling. This is the PET recycling process:
- The chemical recycling It consists of a depolymerization of the PET, for this chemical agents are used. The chemical processes for the transformation of PET can be of different types depending on the quality of the material, among them are: hydrolysis, pyrolysis, glycolysis, saponification and methanolysis.
- With respect to mechanical recycling of PET, is the one normally used in recyclers or recycling plants and different processes are involved in it.
Mechanical PET recycling process
- The PET containers are selected and separated by color and are compacted into bales.
- These bales are subsequently unmade to make the containers pass through belts to select the accepted containers and discard foreign materials.
- Then everything goes through a grinding process, transforming the containers into small "PET flakes" that must be washed.
- Once the material is washed, all the moisture is removed through pressing and drying, to later make an optical selection to remove the colored flakes and that only the transparent ones remain, to make sheets that will later be used to manufacture the new containers .
We also recommend you to know The process of recycling a plastic bottle with this other post from Green Ecologist.
Ideas to recycle PET by reusing it
Plastic bottles are made of PET, and it is one of the waste that in general is generated more in homes. Here are some ideas to reuse PET:
- With two PET bottles we can make a case to store the pencils. To do this, we take the ends of the bottle that allow us to keep the bottle upright. We cut one bottle with the pencils as a reference, leaving the tip of the pencil protruding and the other bottle we cut a little smaller, enough so that the pencils have space when the two ends fit. As additional material you will need a zipper to join them.
- If the PET bottles are cut in half, crosswise, pots can be made to plant aromatic plants, such as rosemary, mint, parsley, oregano, etc. Here we give you more Ideas to make vertical gardens with plastic bottles.
- If you like music, you can make maracas with these materials. You just have to take a bottle and fill it with something that when moving the bottle generates a sound (buttons, small stones, chickpeas, rice or lentils), but remember not to fill it completely so that what you have put inside has room to move and make sound. Once filled, the opening of the bottle must be closed. Do not forget that every maraca has its handle and to do so you must look for a material such as a stick that can be attached to the bottle, and if it is reused, the better.
- With a bottle you can also make impressive vases to decorate the home.
- Manufacture bins by joining PET bottles, also if we have bottles of different colors, we can manufacture several bins, each for a type of waste, thus making separation easier at home.
In this other post we show you more Ideas to recycle plastic bottles.
Benefits of reusing and recycling PET
Actually, reuse should be considered as the first option before recycling, although when a waste cannot be reused, it is better to recycle it than to dispose of it in the garbage where the waste that cannot be recycled and that goes to a landfill is deposited. In summary, the benefits of recycling and reusing PET are:
- One of the most important is the preservation of natural resources, that is, if we recycle waste, it is not necessary to extract new natural resources to manufacture new materials.
- Pollution of the environment is reduced, both of the land and of the bodies of water, which are especially polluted by plastic.
- There is an energy saving, since manufacturing a new product requires more processes than if we recycle an existing one.
- It can also lead to savings at home, since we can give the waste another use, such as for decoration.
- Decrease in oil extraction, the main component of plastic.
- PET plastic can be used for textile recycling. Many textile industries take advantage of PET plastic packaging to produce clothing.
Now that you know all this information about this type of plastics, it may also be useful to know how long it takes for plastic to degrade, a very important point to understand the problem of pollution it generates and the benefit of recycling and reusing it.
If you want to read more articles similar to How to recycle PET, we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category.
- Aurelio, R. (2022) Study of the Depolymerization of Polyethylene Terephthalate. University of Guanajuato. Vol. 1, No. 9, 346