SANBWA and its members shall
support post consumer PET recycling initiatives
SANBWA members shall:
- Only support suppliers of PET bottles that contributes
to the PETco recycling levy.
- Establish a drop-off centre for the public at the bottling
facility and all distribution centres.
- Add the “please recycle” sign on all labels.
- Use recycling friendly materials or recycling optimal
materials as per the table below.
- Formed an informal association with PETco,
cooperating in sharing of information
- Facilitate easy recycling through requiring members
to use recycle friendly materials
- Educate the consumer on the bottled water industry’s
efforts and regarding their own environmental
PETCO (Pty) Ltd is
the South African plastic industry’s first joint effort to
self-regulate post -consumer Polyethylene Terephthalate
It was established in December
2004 to promote and improve the waste management and
recycling of post-consumer PET products on behalf of all
The company is financed by
a voluntary recycling levy paid by converters on resin
purchased, as well as grant-in-aid paid to it by brand
owners, retailers and the resin producers to fulfil their
role of extended producer responsibility.
gives rise to two broad categories of PETCO membership:
companies that pay levies and grants, and have
shareholding and voting rights are known as Shareholder
Members while organisations which are not represented in
the shareholding of PETCO but desire to become part of the
PETCO family are termed Associate Members. To find out who
the PETCO Shareholder members are, and see if any of your
favourite brands are amongst the industry leaders go to
You too can become a member, get access to market
intelligence, receive updates and event notifications,
attend workshops and be a part of the PETCO family, see
for more information.
PETCO is headed by a board
made up of representatives of the brand owners, the
bottlers, resin manufacturers, retailers and converters;
all are drawn from its shareholder membership base.
The company’s core business involves the distribution
of funds to support recyclers, collectors, reclaimers, as
well as initiating and facilitating a wide range of
activities to sustain and grow PET collection. Both help
create a constant supply and demand for post-consumer PET,
especially during adverse economic cycles, and also enable
increased tonnages and greater collection coverage.
The recycling levy collected by PETCO is used in
support of two types of programmes, namely Category A and
Category B Projects:
- Category A Projects promote the economically
viable collection and recycling of PET. Through these
projects, PETCO supports those recyclers processing
PET bottles to turn them into new end-use products
like bottles or fibre.
- Through its Category B Projects PETCO supports
initiatives and activities that do not necessarily
increase the collection volumes of recycled PET, but
contribute to the visible recycling of PET. Here the
objective is to support existing, and encourage new,
post- consumer PET collection and recycling networks;
to raise awareness and assist with consumer education
for the recyclability of PET; and to create
sustainable jobs and provide skills development.
- PET recovery and recycling (pet recovery stations
and separation at source) projects, information and
communication projects (exhibitions and workshops,
events, newsletters and recycling plant visits), clean
up campaigns and litter awareness, education and
training, entrepreneurial training, and joint venture
projects with the PET industry partners all form part
of the Category B work stream.
PETCO’s success over the seven years since its
inception (2004 – 2012) is considerable:
- PETCO has helped to establish over 430 plastic
recovery stations throughout South Africa.
- During the period, 26 000 income opportunities
- The industry has gone from 9 840 tonnes
post-consumer PET bottles recycled to approximately 50
000 tonnes in 2012, or 328 million bottles to over 1.9
- The amount of PET resin produced has increased
from 87 000 tonnes to 160 000 tonnes.
- Beverage PET recycling targets have been increased
from 16% to 44%
Given these achievements, PETCO’s recycling target for
post consumer PET for 2015 of 50% seems certain to be met.
What is PET?
PET is a
by-product of the oil refinement process; that is, it is
not manufactured from virgin crude). It is the building
block of the common polyester chain, hence the name
poly(ethylene terephthalate)- ester.
name depends on whether it is being used as a fibre or as
a material. When it is being used as a fibre to make
clothes, it is often just called polyester and can also be
known by a brand name like Terylene. When it is being used
to make bottles, for example, it is called PET.
Like most bottles containing other beverages, plastic
jars, containers, trays and clamshell packages bottled
water bottles in South Africa are made from PET. Water
bottle coolers commonly found in offices are made from a
different kind of plastic.
PET is lightweight,
unbreakable, and recyclable. Containers made from PET can
be identified by a small number ‘1’ on the bottom of the
container. This is often displayed inside a triangular
mobius or a three-arrow recycling symbol. Alternatively,
the letters ‘PET’ will be stamped into the bottle.
As a polymer manufactured from oil based raw material, PET
is tough and resilient and 100% recyclable. The inert PET
bottle is a well-accepted package all over the world and
is completely safe to drink from:
- There is no dioxin in PET plastic. Dioxin, a
chlorine-containing chemical that has no role or
presence in the chemistry of PET, is formed by
volcanoes (!) and combustion in incinerators at
temperatures above 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bisphenol A (BPA) is not used to make PET, nor is
it used to make any of the component materials used to
- DEHA is not present in PET either as a raw
material or as a decomposition product. DEHA is also
not classified as a human carcinogen and is not
considered to pose any significant health risk to
humans. It can be found in water – bottled or tap
water – and is then called DOA. DOA is one of the
organic containments commonly found at trace levels in
just about all drinking water. It is also sometimes –
wrongly – interpreted as di-ethyl hydroxyl amine which
is not found in PET or in the production of PET
- There are no substances known that can migrate
from PET that could be responsible for the endocrine
disruptors (substances having a hormonal effect)
identified in a study commonly referred to as the
- The idea that PET bottles ‘leach’ chemicals when
frozen or heated in hot cars is not based on any
science, and is unsubstantiated by any credible
evidence. It is therefore safe to freeze a PET bottle,
or keep it in a hot car.
- PET does contain antimony oxide, which is used as
a catalyst. However, the amounts are well below the
established safe limits for food and water set by the
World Health Organisation. For example, a 60kg person
would be able to tolerate an intake of 360ug but the
guideline for drinking water is 15 – 20ug/l.
rPET in South Africa
recycling is unique in South Africa that almost all of the
post-consumer PET bottles collected are recycled locally
and not exported to China for processing, as is done by
many other countries.
There are well-established
markets for rPET (recycled PET). PET, which is the
polymer/resin Polyethylene terephthalate (rigid portion of
the Polyester chain), is commonly known as Polyester. PET
prefixed with an “r” means the PET contains recycled
content. The content can contain either pre-consumer or
post-consumer recycled waste. Post -consumer refers to the
empty packaging that is discarded by the consumer after
use and becomes waste. Pre-consumer waste is often
industrial waste. There is little wastage in the injection
blow moulding bottle industry and more often than not, the
pre-consumer waste is put back into the manufacturing
process. rPET demand in South Africa is close to exceeding
supply. The key challenge, currently, is to collect this
post consumer PET before it gets to landfill.
Discarded PET bottles are collected, baled and delivered
to the recycling plant where they are colour sorted,
washed, granulated, re-washed, extruded (made into long
thin strips of plastic) and cut into pellets.
These rPET pellets are then recycled into a number of
items we encounter every day: feedstock fibre for
polyester carpeting, shopping bags, ceiling insulation and
geotextiles; fabric for T-shirts, long underwear, athletic
shoes, luggage, upholstery and sweaters; fibrefill for
sleeping bags and winter coats; industrial strapping,
sheet and film; automotive parts, such as luggage racks,
headliners, fuse boxes, bumpers, grilles and door panels;
and new PET containers for both food and non-food
products. Future application will include its return to
bottle manufacturers for re-use.
end-use market for post-consumer PET bottles in South
Africa is currently the Bottle2Fibre (polyester staple
fibre) market; although market saturation is within sight.
There is also installed capacity for
Bottle2Foodgrade resin, with a recycled content of up to
25%, feasible. Uptake here is improving in leaps and
bounds with the recent release of detergents, sandwich
packs and juice bottles with recycled content into the
market. Extrupet currently supply the market with rPET via
the PhoenixPET brand, which is currently used in 1,5L
juice bottles produced for Woolworths and the Sunlight
Dishwashing Liquid bottle.
There are also approved
Bottle2Bottle technologies in place for post-consumer PET
bottles to be recycled into new bottles. This is where the
future growth in South Africa will be and PETCO is
currently spearheading a project with SABS to develop
standards for recycled PET plastic content in food grade
See the Story of PET at
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