A new study from as Denkstatt GmbH, one of the leading Austrian consulting companies in the field of sustainable development and environmental management, has found that the carbon footprint of recycled PET is significantly smaller than that of virgin material.
The study was commissioned by leading Austrian packaging producer Alpla-Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG , a company that has been active in PET recycling for over 20 years, to highlight the value of recycling PET. It analyzed the rPET produced by the group's wholly owned subsidiary, PET Recycling Team GmbH in Wöllersdorf, Austria.
The carbon footprint was calculated in accordance with ISO 14044, starting with the collection and sorting of used PET bottles, covering transportation to the recycling plant in Wöllersdorf, through to washing, processing and granulating, and based on the mass and energy balance (electricity and gas consumption) for 2016 at the Austrian recycling plant.
The results were striking, to say the least: Denkstatt measured the carbon footprint of the rPET produced by PET Recycling Team at 0.45 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilogram of rPET, compared to a CO2 equivalent of 2.15 kg for virgin PET. In other words, the CO2 emissions of rPET were found to be 79 percent lower than for new PET material.
As plant manager Peter Fröschel said:"‘The savings for a single kilogram of rPET are enough to power a 13-watt bulb continuously for twenty days in the Austrian power mix."
Alpla operates three recycling plants around the world: a joint venture in Mexico; the wholly owned subsidiary PET Recycling Team in Wöllersdorf; and a new recycling plant built in southern Poland in 2013. The total annual capacity of these plants is around 65,000 metric tons of food-grade rPET.