What materials are used in plastic bottles

Eight truths about PET bottles

The PET forum investigated the topics - including plasticizers, hormonal effects - and published eight myths relating to one of the most important materials in the packaging and textile industry:

Myth 1: Glass bottles are more ecological than PET bottles.

In the opinion of Forum PET, this is not generally true. A wide variety of factors such as packaging material and weight, transport routes or recycling play a role in the complex life cycle assessment of packaging. While PET returnable bottles have long been among the most environmentally friendly beverage packaging, PET non-returnable bottles have also been continuously improved in terms of ecology. In recent years, they have become more and more environmentally friendly, primarily through measures such as weight reduction, recycling, shorter transport times and lowering energy consumption during manufacture. As early as 2010, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg GmbH (ifeu) found out that the most common PET non-returnable bottle on the market, the 1.5 liter bottle for water and carbonated soft drinks, is ecologically equivalent to the returnable glass bottle.

Myth 2: PET beverage bottles contain plasticizers.

This claim is wrong - according to the PET forum: PET bottles do not contain any plasticizers, explains the Federal Office for Risk Assessment (BfR) on its website. The name polyethylene terephthalate is mistakenly associated with the plasticizers phthalates, but phthalates and other plasticizers are not needed to manufacture PET bottles. Adding plasticizers would also make no sense because the bottles would lose their stability as a result. This false assumption is held probably because of the similarity of the names phthalate and polyethylene terephthalate.

Myth 3: Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in the production of PET bottles.

The Federal Office for Risk Assessment refutes this claim as well, because BPA is not used in the manufacture of PET bottles. Bisphenol A belongs to a group of substances that can have hormone-like effects and can be found in plastic objects. However, bisphenol A is not used in PET bottle production.

Myth 4: Hormone-like substances pass from PET bottles into the mineral water.

That is also not true, according to the PET forum. According to the BfR, studies could not find any difference between the estrogenic activity of mineral waters from PET bottles and those from glass bottles. The activity detected in individual studies was the same for both types of packaging and about 10,000 times less than the natural estrogenic activity of beverages such as milk, beer or red wine. The BfR assumes that this low level of activity is not due to the PET bottles.

Myth 5: Used PET bottles go first to the deposit machines and then to the garbage.

Since the introduction of a deposit on one-way beverage packaging in 2003, PET bottles that are subject to a deposit have been taken back from retailers in Germany. Thanks to the deposit system, almost 99 percent of the PET bottles subject to a deposit are collected and the valuable material is recycled. Because PET can be recycled without any problems.

Myth 6: Used PET beverage bottles from Germany are mainly exported to China.

Forum PET on this: That is also not true. A study by the Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung mbH (GVM) from 2015 shows that around 80 percent of PET recycling now takes place in Germany. Most of the rest of the recyclable material is recycled in other countries near the border. The costs of transport to countries further away are usually just too high. In addition, the demand for recycled material continues to grow in Europe.

Myth 7: Only inferior products are made from recycled PET beverage bottles.

That is not right. More than a third of the PET beverage bottles collected are now exactly what they were: the raw material for new PET beverage bottles. The GVM study mentioned above also comes to the same conclusion. Other buyers are the textile fiber (27 percent) and the film industry (23 percent). The remaining raw material is processed into other products such as tapes or detergent bottles (16 percent).

Myth 8: Mineral water from PET bottles does not taste natural.

That is also incorrect. It is true that the substance acetaldehyde migrates from PET bottles into the drink and can produce a slightly sweet and fruity taste even from very small quantities. Incidentally, this is harmless to health, because acetaldehyde can be clearly smelled or tasted in water from less than one hundredth of the legal limit value. To ensure that the natural taste of mineral water remains unchanged, PET bottles in Germany contain blockers that prevent the acetaldehyde from migrating into the water. By the way, acetaldehyde is also a natural component of fruits and other foods such as cheese; In some cases, the substance occurs there in significantly higher concentrations than in the mineral water from PET bottles.