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Mainpage 2014 June
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Direction correct – but where are we going?

Polyethylene terephthalate has been used as packaging material mainly for drinks as replacement of glass bottles, called PET bottles, for some decades.

Its main advantages include low production costs, small weight, good optical properties and gas-tightness. Drinks contained can be seen well and preserve their quality for a long time. As due to lighter packaging, more drinks could be taken home at once and the packaging could be thrown away, PET bottles became popular throughout the world within a short time. Manufacturers of PET base materials and PET bottles have experienced a rapid expansion as customers wanted to buy everything in PET bottles disregarding the fact whether or not it was possible.

Environmental protection organizations recognized early that it was about a not or very slowly degradable packaging material and urged use of reusable bottles. However, no country was ready to obey this call: Undergoing the return, wash and refill processes, PET bottles looked like poor-quality second-hand products; drink manufacturers opted for one-way bottles in order to increase their turnover; and also shopkeepers wanted to be freed of return and storage tasks.

Thus, direction has been set. If the direction is correct, objective shall only be determined. Distributors want to reduce their costs, and purchase costs, within them packaging materials constitute a major item.

Confrontation

Packaging material manufacturers develop a new manufacturing technology for PET bottles made of a lighter material called composite. Purchase price of packaging diminishes while quality remains the same. Everyone is satisfied.
And where have we arrived?

Customers' favourite drinks are of the same quality but when opening the bottle, also the upper part of the bottle is twisted. When filling out the drink, the bottle cannot preserve its form, and a part of drink lands outside the glass. At least its price is not higher.

Drink manufacturer says that through cutting prices, he is a survivor of the market.

The bottle manufacturer developed a product whose properties and price satisfy the purchaser.

For the selective waste management company, the only fact is important that somebody buys the waste collected.

However, recycling companies face the problem that packaging material cannot be processed because it is a composite material of complex structure. Just even the most modern selection technologies can do anything against it.

But what should be done (in my opinion)?

Packaging experts shall discuss every new development with the recycling companies.

An organization shall be set up that can always calculate the environmental protection product fee with consideration of the recycling opportunities of a new material.

A waste disposal technology shall be developed for all composite packagings (in case composite materials shall be used).

Lévai, András – Managing Director of LAPLAST PET KFT.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 16:37  

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