Frequently Asked Questions - General

The PET grades used for 'ovenable' trays have the same basic chemical formula as ordinary PET but it has been specially heat treated during the container manufacturing process to turn it opaque milky white. In this form it has a much higher temperature resistance and is can be heated up to 220 degrees centigrade which is high enough for reheating pre-cooked foods.

Again, this depends on the shelf life requirements. Many brewers package beers in short life applications for uses such as at football games where there is a need to remove glass for very obvious safety reasons.  PET grades used for soft drinks do not quite have the longer life resistance to oxygen ingress to protect against deterioration in taste that is demanded by the brewers.  New  PET developments in co-injection technology and special monolayer polymers are delivering a highly improved oxygen barrier more suitable for these applications.   With this new advantage, plus its light weight and strength, PET is now being used to package and transport beer.

Yes, if the customer wants this. Dairy products normally have very short shelf lives and are sold and consumed within a few days. Carbon dioxide losses are not relevant and oxygen sensitivity is less important here which allows many other materials to be used which also have good resistance to attack by bacteria. In this application the food manufacturer will use the most appropriate package for his specific product.Milk really needs light (ultraviolet and visible rays) protection to preserve integrity of nutrition and flavour properties, and today there are already many milk bottles based on PET on the shelves, even for those applications requiring longest shelf life (UHT milk).  PET not only meets packaging functional requirements for milk, but has also opened new markets to many milk producers through the excellent consumer acceptance of milk filled in PET bottles.

The major use for PET packaging is soft drinks, under normal European conditions a soft drink packaged in PET will remain fresh for up to nine months or more. If it is kept in refrigerator it will keep fresh for a longer period. This is long enough lifetime for the delivery cycles used for soft drinks.

Simply comparing manufacture of a glass and a PET bottle is misleading, it is necessary to compare what they are being used for, both are used to deliver drinks or liquids to the consumer and when compared on resources used to deliver one litre of beverage the situation is rather different. In this respect comparative studies show the PET bottle competes very well indeed, especially in the larger sizes and over longer transport distances.The environmental impact analysis over the full life cycle of the various packaging alternatives (LCA) shows that in most uses PET has very favourable results compared to the other options.

Yes it can.  Some PET is collected, washed free of contaminants and reclaimed in a similar manner by remelting and making new bottles and containers. However, most of the PET collected is still recycled back into polyester fibres for textile materials, for the filling of duvets and similar bedding, in sports garments and shoes, and indoor and outdoor wear, furnishing textiles, insulation, belts and webbing, filters and geotextiles. [See under recycling].

Virtually all plastic cola and sparkling mineral water bottles are made from PET. Usually the PET container is marked with an identification symbol in the form of three arrows making a triangular shape, a number 1 in the centre of the triangle and the acronym PET under the base of the triangle. The symbol can be found either printed on the label or moulded on the base or shoulder of the bottle.

Glass has proved an outstanding material for packaging liquids for well over 1000 years. However, in today's modern world the demand for safer, more environmentally sustainable and cost effective packages that can be easily transported  led to the development and growth in the use of PET bottles. Glass is environmentally sustainable for smaller sized specialist bottles, but when filled with carbonated drinks in containers over 1.0 litres - PET is the safest and most preferred lightweight and unbreakable container.

Transport distances are also now growing as consumers request specialised drinks from outside their own local boundaries. PET offers substantial savings in transport fuel costs, reduced carbon footprint and less wastage through breakage over the glass equivalent.

PET is the one plastic which has the correct balance of properties ideally suited for packaging carbonated (fizzy) drinks like colas and lemonades. All plastics are porous to some degree and will allow gasses to pass through the structure given sufficient time.  PET will retain sufficient carbon dioxide in a beverage bottle to keep the drink fresh within the normal shelf life of the product, which is not true for other widely available plastics. The same property also keeps oxygen outside the container and prevents spoilage from oxidation.

No, most [88%] of the oil extracted from the earth is used as a fuel for transport systems, heating appliances or for generation of electricity. The amount used for chemicals and plastics is small in comparison. PET used less than 0.15% of the world’s oil resources in 1996.  Of course, because we recycle PET we do not lose the small amount of oil used to make PET, we just keep using it over and over again.It must be remembered that oil is only a carbon source and that PET is also made using sugar cane waste (as a feedstock for the ethylene glycol).  There are many more materials using carbon sources that are not directly called oil.  Although we might move away from oil we shall always need a carbon source for many applications.

When an organic acid is mixed with an organic base it makes something called an ester.  PET is made with an organic acid - terephthalic acid - and  a base - ethylene glycol.  When we make plastics we use a substance called a monomer and when two monomers react with each other they form a poly(mono)mer, or polymer for short.  So an ester reacting with an ester becomes known as a polyester. When PET is used for fibre or fabric applications, it is usually referred to as "polyester". When PET is used for container and packaging applications, it is typically called "PET" or "PET resin."

PET plastic containers are identified by the #1 recycling code -- the triangular "chasing arrows" symbol with the number 1 in the centre and the acronym PET underneath. The recycling symbol can usually be found on the label or moulded into the bottom or side of the container or bottle. Only PET carries the #1 identification code.

 PET is the most commonly used acronym for the polymer polyethylene terephthalate.  PET is the most common form of polymer in the "polyester" polymer family. It is heated and shaped into plastic bottles, trays and containers for packaging foods and beverages, personal care products, and many other consumer products.