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APR challenges PETRA's resin-assessment plan

October 19, 2012

WASHINGTON (Oct. 19, 4:40 p.m. ET) – Leaders of the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers expressed “disappointment and strong concern” over a recycling-related plan proposed this week by the PET Resin Association (PETRA).

“It is great to see that PETRA acknowledges their interest in keeping PET bottle resins recyclable,” Tom Busard, vice president of PET recycler Clean Tech Inc. in Dundee, Mich., and chairman of APR, said in an Oct. 19 news release. “It is important, as they note, that the resins used for PET bottles do not diminish the well-established PET recycling efforts across the country.

“Unfortunately, their announced protocols would have the exact opposite effect.”

Earlier this week, PETRA proposed a way of assessing the recyclability of PET resin “to overcome recycling test barriers that discourage improvements in PET resin.” PETRA said its plan would be more “realistic and effective” than existing APR guidelines.

The PETRA model integrates the need for continued innovation with stringent resin testing and monitoring, according to Ralph Vasami, executive director of PETRA, which represents North American producers of PET resin.

Washington-based APR, which said it represents more than 90 percent of processors of postconsumer plastic bottles in North America, dismissed PETRA’s plan.

“PETRA came to us three years ago and said, ‘We want you to approve our resins at reduced testing concentration levels.’ APR reviewed the concepts with our entire Technical Committee, which includes brand owners, resin manufacturers, converters and reclaimers, at length,” Busard said.

“The committee concluded that resins tested at low levels could in fact cause significant contamination and legal issues and have a negative impact of the second use life of the resin.”

APR’s PET Bottle Critical Guidance document calls for resin testing at concentrations of either 25 percent or 50 percent. The European PET Bottle Platform PET Recycling Test Protocol allows for testing at lower concentrations than APR.

“APR requires resin variants and innovations typically having a low market presence to meet the same requirements of a resin accounting for 25 percent or 50 percent of total North American PET production,” said New York-based PETRA.

The PETRA model allows for testing variations at levels of 2 percent and 10 percent, which PETRA said encompasses the vast majority of today’s new PET resin variants.

Dave Cornell, APR technical director, said, “We have spent years carefully considering the proper mode to investigate resin innovations for effect on recycling and determined what properties need investigation, how tests should be conducted, and how results should be interpreted to be commercially relevant. Our methods are rigorous and repeatable and readily understood.”

Also in the news release, APR Director Steve Alexander said, “The industry knows what they will get when the material they are using has passed APR critical guidance.”