A fresh infusion of money from three companies is allowing the National Association for PET Container Resources to keep addressing PET recycling hurdles caused by bottle colors and barrier layers.
Charlotte, N.C.-based NAPCOR announced May 1 that Ball Corp., PepsiCo. Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. have joined the plastics group's Top Bottle project as financial supporters.
NAPCOR officials declined to disclose the size of the contribution, but said it is significant.
``While the project is not yet fully funded, this new financial support provides the ability to continue this important work uninterrupted,'' said Mike Schedler, NAPCOR vice president of technology. ``This 2-year-old project is entering its most critical phase of market development and integration with existing PET reclaimers.''
One focus will be on developing markets for mixed-color PET streams, he said. The project has shifted emphasis from solving collection problems, such as funding NAPCOR's early work with stadium-event recycling, and now is focused on identifying end uses, Schedler said.
NAPCOR is close to announcing a new end use for mixed-color PET streams, and is seeking applications in sheet, fiber and compounding markets. The group did a lot of early work with amber PET beer bottles, but those have not taken as prominent a place in the market as initially anticipated, he said.
The group also has identified blue PET bottles, like those for water, as an area that needs to be watched, Schedler said. Reclaimers are able to handle them without problems, but studies have shown that blue bottles can cause problems if they make up more than 10 percent of a green PET stream, and less for clear, he said.
``Those limits are going to come up pretty quickly,'' Schedler said.
The project also is finding some differences between testing done on barrier layers as part of the Association for Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers' Champions for Change program, and testing done with commercial-size loads in the Top Bottle project.
``Clearly there are some issues that we are addressing that didn't surface in the laboratory portion for Champions for Change,'' he said.
It has been a challenge to identify what barrier layers are in the stream, but a new APR protocol for identifying and measuring those layers should help, Schedler said. NAPCOR funded the protocol. Another challenge, he said, is that bottles sometimes act differently in real-world conditions, such as when they have been sitting around in bales for some time.
Other funders of the project include the American Plastics Council, a primary funder, along with Miller Brewing Co., Constar Inc., Voridian Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., Coors Brewing Co. and Owens-Illinois Inc.'s plastics group.