Environmental concerns of PET in Latin America
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The production of PET in the Latin American industry
Environmental protection has continued to grow as a significant global concern. Multiple organisations are currently paying more attention to meeting environmental standards at all levels of the value chain.
In Latin American countries, this tendency implies the involvement of suppliers of raw materials, manufacturers, distribution centres and social welfare policies, known as ‘Green Value Chain.’ The base of The Green Value Chain framework is on future trends and environmental requirements to achieve a sustainable design.
Industry uses green materials in green engineering when designing products produced with minimal resources. The process applied to manufacture them has a marginal impact on the environment.
When talking about green materials, it refers to the minimum resources used to make a product/service. It involved the utilisation of minimum raw materials and renewable energy with minimal carbon emissions.
An example of the above is PET, lightweight, resistant and recyclable plastic. Once recycled, the industry can use it to manufacture furniture, carpets, textile fibres, car parts; for instance, conveniently recycled into food packaging.
Polyethylene Terephthalate, also known by its acronym ‘PET’, is a type of plastic commonly used in containers. In addition to being 100% recyclable, its wide range of applications varies thanks to its particular characteristic in the manufacturing of bottles for beverages not sensitive to oxygen, such as carbon soft drinks, mineral water, oil, as well as for the processing industry of solids, liquids and purified food, the production of articles for garments, such as protective clothing for public servants.
PET plastic can be processed and reprocessed, deploying extrusion, injection, blowing, and thermoforming techniques like all thermoplastics. The so-called ‘green’ materials come out from minimising the content and types of materials, energy consumption during use, waste during production, end-of-life disposal of products, packaging materials, and during the development and production stages.
PET is a substance specifically resistant to biodegradation due to its high crystallinity property and the aromatic nature of its molecules, the reason why we consider it as non-biodegradable. PET can be degraded through a chemical process that modifies its molecular structure to reuse such material for a new product or obtaining fuels.
You must consider PET waste physical and mechanical properties to perform the PET chemical degradation. Its manufacturing is economical when carried out in entirely automatic lines and long series. The use of PET plastic containers guarantees safety and optimal conservation of the product it contains, as it is a very innocuous material. It is entirely recyclable and minimises the environmental impact when mainly manufactured with recycled materials.
In Mexico, the green production of PET is a method of production of goods or services that minimises external costs and contamination; its process involves designing for reusing, designing for disassembly and designing for remanufacturing.
A recent scientific article reported that fish and molluscs in Tecolutla, Veracruz, swallow microplastics of the PET type. So, when eating fish, “we are consuming food that brings microplastics we cannot see and do not take flavour; however, they can favour the development of cancer.”
With outstanding infrastructure, Mexico registers levels of collection and recycling of PET plastic similar to those of Europe. It appears as a leader in the American continent, with a recycling rate almost doubling that of the USA. Few countries can boast the 56% collection and recycling figures reported by Mexico, which places the country at the forefront of Latin American countries.
Is your company involved in a Green Value Chain to protect our environment?