This site has been known to deviate from the mother-lode of paper and large cardboard boxes with plastics, recycling, green packaging and waste management in general being the usual suspects. This time it is rPET or recycled polyethylene terephthalate. This plastic polymer has been around for a while so in itself this is old news. It is often used for plastic bottles and other food containers in addition to polystyrene – both PET and polystyrene are safe to make trays, boxes etc. for food. What makes rPET unique this time is that Pepsi Canada claims to have made a 7Up bottle which is of all recycled polyethylene terephthalate.
Typically a huge number plastic items have some sort of virgin to recycled raw materials ratio. This is rather similar in the paperboard and packaging industry when cardboard boxes are manufactured. Similarly, the greater the amount of recycled plastics in the overall mix, the harder it is to increase quality predictability of the final product. For example, a plastic bottle has to be compliant with product requirements which in turn may be following some legal base abidance. Making a plastic water bottle will have one set of requirements; making a recycled plastic container for carbonated sodas can introduce a number of hardships. Puncture resistance and material stress test levels are to name a few. When these requirements are carried over to a product made from all-recycled content – this becomes rather difficult and bottom line expensive.
The circumstances which make it harder to work with recycled vs. raw materials are often traces of paper, inks, adhesives, dirt and other contaminants which get naturally added to the mix. As a result, it is harder to meet customer requirements and as such markets become at risk. Waste management companies, on the other hand, must also be involved. Importing recycled raw materials from another locality is not impossible, yet it will, to some extent, discredit Pepsi’s efforts into making a green bottle and really reducing carbon footprint. If they have to haul or fly the recyclate from somewhere else, the greenhouse gas emissions will increase accordingly and marketing media hype might not strike the right customer chord when they see the green bottle.
Pepsi have promised to go in production with the new bottle in early August 2011. Since this will only be offered for 7Up, their cost control should check out and hopefully keep the local curbside collection waste management companies busy. All Canadians can make some personal efforts and recycle properly – chances are that the next bottle of the cool clear beverage they pick up would be in a all-recycled green bottle.
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