The PET Recycling Process
The pressed bales of PET produced by the sorting center are taken to a recycling facility where they are processed to become raw secondary material.
The first step is to open the blocks and remove any objects that are visibly extraneous: metal wire holding blocks of bottles together, any residual tins, label fragments.
In the second step, the labels are removed and the first sorting takes place. The bottles are washed in hot water to remove glue and labels, then pass under an optical detector which removes unwanted colors and any remaining non-PET bottles. For the final sorting, they undergo a manual visual check.
During the third step, the bottles, including caps and collars, are crushed. The flakes produced by the crushing are divided into the two different plastics – PET from the bottles, HDPE from the caps – by “flotation” (HDPE is lighter and floats).
In the fourth step, the flakes are dried and packaged and a sample is taken for laboratory analysis. The water used for the washing is purified for reuse.