What to look for when buying Post Consumer PET Bottles

PET, PET Bottles, PET Bottle Scrap

Buying post-consumer PET bottles is one of the biggest components of the plastic recycling trade, with multiple consumer and industrial applications for the versatile, plentiful and highly adaptable PET recycled plastic. At BlackBridge Investments, we help customers buy and sell post consumer PET bottles, and we often encounter some situations that we look for to help us ensure optimum quality and consistency of the PET recycled plastic product.

If you’re putting together an order for your next shipment of post-consumer PET bottles, here are a few key parameters to look for when buying PET recycled plastic:

  • Clear to color ratio of 80/20 or above. Anything below 80/20 starts to become less than desirable material. The best quality shipments of post-consumer PET bottles will be easy to sort, shred and re-purpose into new products. Having too much colored PET recycled plastic in a bale makes it harder to cost-effectively process the material – leading to delays and added costs in sorting and other steps of the process.
  • The clearer the PET plastic, the better: Clear or lightly blue tinted PET plastic bottles are the most desirable for recycling, because they are the easiest to shred into PET flake and convert into other products. Green and darker blue colors of PET plastic bottles offer less value, and amber PET bottles (mostly beer bottles and some iced tea beverages) decrease overall value for plastic recycling. The reason is that darker colors of plastic PET bottles can cause technical problems in the recycling process.
  • Consistent bale quality: The best quality bales of post consumer PET bottles will contain only PET plastic bottles, nothing else – no metal, paper, film, trash, dirt or anything else other than #1 plastic. Ensuring consistency of the bale is part of the BlackBridge Investments quality assurance process. We strive to work with reliable plastic recycling brokers and sellers who have solid processes in place to make sure that the plastic they deliver contains what is promised, with no foreign material, junk or clutter.
  • Dry, protected storage: Storing post consumer PET bottles is ideally done indoors, in dry conditions. The reason is that post-consumer PET bottles, even if they once contained liquid, need to be kept free of moisture. Why? Water is heavy, and any moisture inside the bottles (even trace amounts) can add significant weight to the load, leaving the buyers with less actual PET plastic bottle product than they paid for. In the recycled plastic trade, part of “getting what you pay for” means ensuring that you have a dry load of PET plastic bottles. At BlackBridge Investments, we work closely with our trading partners to ensure that they have good storage facilities and practices in place to prevent moisture from “dampening the enthusiasm” of PET plastic buyers.
  • Well-assembled bales: Part of handling the logistics for selling and shipping PET plastic bottles means ensuring that the bales of plastic are well-assembled for easy and efficient loading, shipping and unloading. The best bales of post-consumer PET plastic bottles should be tightly put together with sharp 90-degree edges to ensure maximum weight and the least amount of material falling off the bales during loading and unloading.

What are the biggest hassles and headaches that your company has encountered when buying post-consumer PET bottles?

What are your PET plastic recycling trading partners doing “right” when it comes to storing/managing/shipping PET plastic?

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