Austrian recycling company PRT, member of ALPLA group and one of Starlinger’s first customers, recently published interesting figures about the CO2 footprint of recycled PET. A contracted agency found out that the carbon footprint of rPET is smaller than anticipated. Whereas using recyclate instead of virgin was supposed to reduce the CO2 footprint by 50%, new findings show that it actually saves nearly 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, one kilogram of produced rPET has a carbon footprint of 0,45 kg CO2 equivalent. Compared to that, the carbon footprint of virgin PET is huge. 2,15 kg CO2 equivalent per kilogram virgin PET, that is 1,7 kg CO2 equivalent more than rPET. For the calculation of the CO2 balance, the complete process of collection, transport, sorting, washing, pre-treating and pelletizing of post-consumer PET bottles was taken into account. This is interesting, as the pelletizing step was not considered in our previous article in issue #03. We can conclude that the environmental advantage of bottle to bottle and bottle to sheet recycling is bigger than expected.
Beside from its economic and ecologic factors, this topic could take on another dimension in future. In a study from European Commission the authors raise an interesting point: To reduce the environmental impact of packaging, plastic producers could be forced to measure the carbon footprint of their products. The study points out that more than 50% of all goods in Europe are packaged in plastic – on average, 29 kg per person per year. 22 million tonnes of plastic packaging are produced in Europe each year. To realize Europe’s ambitious environment policy (keyword Circular Economy), life cycle assessment of plastic packaging plays definitely an important role. Right now, there is no indication for obliging packaging producers by law to do it. However, it is for sure no mistake to bear this possibility in mind.