The National Association for PET Container Resources in Sonoma, Calif., has joined a growing list of PET recyclers and plastic recycling officials who are concerned over the potential contamination of the PET recycling stream by water bottles made from polylactic acid.
The entire premise that you can simply add PLA containers into the PET recycling stream, successfully sort them out, and eventually find markets for the material is like advocating that mixed ceramic materials be thrown right in with the recyclable glass stream to be sorted out, and that eventually there will be enough of this mixed material that someone will want to buy it, NAPCOR technical director Mike Schedler said in a July 24 news release.
It just isn't a viable solution from anyone's point of view.
The issue of whether PLA could damage the PET recycling stream moved to the forefront three weeks ago. That's when bioplastics maker NatureWorks LLC released test results that said near-infrared technology can separate 93 percent of PLA out of a PET recycling stream, and the remaining level of contamination would not create an appreciable haze or color difference.
If PLA bottles enter the PET recycling stream, it would transfer significant system costs and logistics burdens to the PET recyclers, impacting the viability and continued sustainability of their businesses, said NAPCOR Chairman Tom Busard, who also is president of recycler Clean Tech Inc. in Dundee, Mich.
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