Recycled PET (rPET) results in a much higher carbon dioxide saving than previously assumed, claims a study conducted by denkstatt GmbH on behalf of Austrian converter Alpla.

The tests were performed using rPET from PET Recycling Team, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alpla and found that carbon emissions were nearly 80 per cent lower than new material.

Although the economic conditions for the recycling of plastics are currently difficult due to the low price of oil, Alpla continues to follow this cornerstone of its sustainability strategy.

The rPET produced by PET Recycling Team has a carbon footprint of 0.45kg carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of rPET. Virgin PET, or new material, accounts for a carbon dioxide equivalent of 2.15kg per kilogram, corresponding to a carbon dioxide equivalent of 1.7kg.

Plant manager Peter Fröschel said: “The savings for a single kilogram of rPET are enough to power a 13-watt bulb continuously for 20 days in the Austrian power mix.”

The calculation started with the collection and sorting of used PET bottles, covering transportation to the recycling plant in Wöllersdorf, through to washing, processing and granulating.

Alpla operates recycling enterprises at three sites, a joint venture in Mexico, the subsidiary PET Recycling Team in Austria, and a recycling plant in southern Poland that was built in 2013. The annual capacity of these plants is around 65,000 tonnes of food-grade rPET.

PET Recycling Team was founded in 2005 and Alpla became a majority shareholder in 2010. A subsidiary company called PRT Radomsko was constructed in Poland in 2012 and has 75 staff. The 50-employee Austrian plant produces 35,000 tonnes of rPET a year in the form of pellets and flakes.