EuPR condemn report that questions PET recycling

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon footprint, Recycling

Europe's representative board for plastic recycling has criticised a report released by SRI Consulting (SRIC) that questioned the recycling of PET, stating it inconsistent with the move towards a recycling society.

Original report questions recycling

SRI Consulting’s report ‘PET’s Carbon Footprint: To Recycle or not to Recycle’, evaluated the carbon footprint of PET and rPET (recycled PET) bottles from production of raw materials through to incineration or disposal to arrive at its conclusion.

The report author, Eric Johnson said: “In terms of resource squandering ​[of oil in particular] if it takes more resources to recycle bottles or burn them than to produce units from virgin PET then this is irresponsible. If you’re going to recycle, we’re simply saying – ‘do it properly’.”

However, Casper van den Dungen, EuPR PET working group chairman and vice-president, claims the publication is 'unwise', 'dangerous to sustainability' and 'goes against the European legislation’.

“By applying the SRI Consulting results we would lose valuable material in landfills. The used model is intrinsically wrong as in reality landfill should be avoided as a starting principle,”​ he said.

Controversial findings

The Swedish analyst group pointed out that sending PET bottles to landfill rather than incinerating them could potentially reduce the carbon footprint by up to 30 per cent.

Our study will irritate some environmentalists and figures within the industry, but it will please others too,”​ added Johnson.

EuPR is one of those organisations riled by these findings and claim the reports are potentially very dangerous, as they send the population the wrong message about recycling.

PET has been a recommended choice for the personal care industry, and growing consumer demand for environmentally-friendly products has seen the increased introduction of recycled PET, as it can be produced with similar characteristics as the virgin source.

An LCI study earlier this year found that using recycled PET saves energy and generates less greenhouse gas as it requires less energy than that needed to produce the equivalent tonnage of virgin PET resin. The corresponding savings in greenhouse gas emissions amounts to 1.1 million tons of CO2 equivalents.

Related topics: Packaging & Design

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