The Association for Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers is urging the packaging industry not to use opaque white PET bottles.
APR, based in Arlington, said in an April 15 statement that the bottles are ``especially onerous'' to recyclers because they are hard to separate from other bottles and can contaminate a load of clear PET, lowering its value.
``Sortation capability currently in practice cannot separate either opaque white PET bottles'' or bottles with titanium oxide flake, APR said.
``Reclaimers throughout North America have experienced product degradation and increased cost as a result of the design decision to use opaque white PET,'' APR said. ``Brand companies interested in bottle-to-bottle recycling of PET should know opaque white PET compromises the reclaiming industry's ability to supply clear PET for recycled content in the next bottle.''
APR is modifying its design guidelines for plastic bottle recycling to emphasize its concerns about white PET. The guidelines are at www.plasticsrecycling.org.
Robin Cotchan, APR director, said APR has found that firms using white PET are cooperative. The material is used in products for PepsiCo Inc.'s Tropicana drinks, Nestle SA, Procter & Gamble Co.'s Ivory soap, and contact lens cleaner maker Alcon Inc., she said.
``We are working with all these companies and talking to everyone and getting good responses,'' Cotchan said. ``Not that they are going to pull it off the market, but maybe there is an ability to develop an end-use market.''
Cotchan said working with brand manufacturers to develop end-use markets is a change in direction for the trade group, whose companies have more than 90 percent of the post-consumer plastics processing capacity in North America.
``We've grown with our cooperation and participation in wanting to work with industry,'' she said.
The problem also may present an opportunity for equipment suppliers to design retrofits that can pull the white PET out of the bottle stream. Cotchan said she thinks companies are switching from white high density polyethylene to white PET bottles because PET is shinier.