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Hopes for waste reduction as oxi-biodegradation technology applied to PET

By Gavin Kermack , 24-Nov-2008

A company specialising in oxi-biodegradable products is hoping to reduce waste in countries with traditionally low levels of recycling.

UK-based Wells Plastics has adapted its Reverte technology for use in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

According to the company, Reverte-treated PET products which are not sent for recycling will oxi-biodegrade in a fraction of time it takes standard PET products, which can be several hundred years.

“This is a very positive step, especially in those places where recycling has not reached high levels,” the firm’s John James told BeverageDaily.com.

Figures from the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) claim that only 23.5 per cent of PET bottles were recycled in the USA in 2006, representing a drop of over 16 per cent in the space of ten years.

James said that the rapid growth in the manufacture and use of PET bottles necessiatated research into methods of reducing non-biodegradable waste.

Recyclable

However, Wells Plastics says that the technology is not intended to replace recycling, as Reverte-treated PET remains fully recyclable.

“We are being very careful to stress to people… that it doesn’t change the first priority to recycle wherever possible,” James said.

He told BeverageDaily.com that the hope is for treated PET products which “don’t find their way into the [recycling] stream” to degrade naturally on landfill sites – or wherever people may choose to leave them.

Speaking of the length of time the process takes, he said that this is entirely dependant on local climatic conditions, but said that it could be around ten years.

Shelf life

When asked if this would affect the shelf life of PET products, he said that this, along with the physical properties of the treated product, were the firm’s “first priority” when developing the technology.

He said that early developmental issues affecting the clarity of PET bottles have been overcome, and that shelf life is unaffected.

Wells Plastics has been marketing its Reverte technology for a number of years. However, it previously focused on applying it to polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics.

James said the firm always thought the process could be used to treat PET but that it had never really pursued this until it was approached by Planet Green Bottle Corporation, a Canadian PET bottle manufacturer, to make PET more environmentally-friendly.