Carbon footprint improvements of rPET

PET Recycling Team further improves carbon footprint of rPET

PET pellets from post-consumer drink bottles provided by PET Recycling Team GmbH, a subsidiary of ALPLA, result in greenhouse gas emissions that are only a tenth of the level for new material. This has been confirmed in a recent investigation.

Last year, PET Recycling Team (PRT) in Wöllersdorf, Lower Austria, obtained a measurement of the environmental impact of recycled PET (rPET) produced in-house. The calculated value was a carbon dioxide equivalent of 0.45 kg for every kilogram of material produced. A new calculation by c7-consult takes into account the now optimised power mix, resulting in a carbon dioxide equivalent of just 0.21 kg.

‘By switching to electricity from renewable sources, we have again managed to reduce CO2 emissions by a considerable margin,’ says Peter Fröschel, plant manager. ‘Our annual production of rPET amounts to around 31,000 tonnes. It would take a mixed forest area the size of 6,231 football pitches to absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions we are saving each year compared to the production of new PET material.’

Growing demand for rPET

New material, also known as virgin PET, has a carbon dioxide equivalent of 2.15 kg per kilogram. This means that the greenhouse gas emissions for recycled material from Wöllersdorf are only a tenth as high. CEO Günther Lehner sees this as confirmation of the sustainability strategy at ALPLA: ‘We have noticed greater demand for products made from recycled materials. In recent years, we have managed to move away from discussions that focus purely on cost, establishing sustainability as a core value.’

Entire recycling process examined in detail

The environmental impact (carbon footprint) was calculated in accordance with ISO 14044, starting with the collection and sorting of used PET bottles and covering transportation to the Wöllersdorf plant as well as washing, processing and granulating. The analysis is based on the mass and energy balance (electricity and gas consumption) for 2016, which has remained constant since.

Investment in PET recycling

ALPLA has been working intensively on plastic recycling methods for over 20 years. ‘Our customers are committed to sustainability, and we support them with our expertise. We believe that recycling is appropriate and important not just for legal reasons: it is an economic sector of great significance for the environment and the future of our industry,’ says CEO Günther Lehner.

ALPLA operates recycling plants in three locations. In addition to the wholly owned subsidiary in Wöllersdorf, a plant was established in 2013 in Radomsko, Poland, and there is a joint venture in Mexico. In total, 65,000 tonnes of food-grade rPET is produced from post-consumer material at the three plants each year.