According to China Market Regulatory News, plastic is everywhere in people's lives, from a straw to a car. However, plastic brings many conveniences to people's daily life, but it also brings challenges to environmental governance. Not long ago, the Investigation Report on Chinese Consumers' rPET Awareness (2022) released by the Kexin Food and Health Information Exchange Center brought back the topic of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) recycling and regeneration, which has attracted the attention of the industry, to the public.
For example, PET, the most widely used plastic, is used for making beverage bottles or other food packaging materials because of its good ductility, high transparency and guaranteed safety. However, according to relevant data, the weight of PET bottles consumed in China in 2019 will be about 4.42 million tons. It takes at least hundreds of years for PET to be completely decomposed under natural conditions, which brings burden to the environment and economy.
In 2021, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the "Fourteenth Five Year Plan" Action Plan for Plastic Pollution Control, proposing the important task of "accelerating the standardized recycling and disposal of plastic waste". This is also one of the ways of plastic pollution control during the "Fourteenth Five Year Plan" period.
In this case, recycling "green" from plastic bottles has become the consensus in the industry. Industry insiders said that disposable plastic packaging discarded from an economic point of view, will lose 95% of its use value. From the perspective of environmental protection, it will also lead to crop yield reduction, marine pollution and many other problems. If used PET beverage bottles are recycled, it is of great significance from the environmental, economic and social aspects.
The reporter learned from relevant data that at present, the recycling rate of PET beverage bottles in China is 94%. In rPET (recycled PET, recycled PET plastic), more than 80% of them enter the recycled fiber industry to make bags, clothing, sunshades and other daily necessities.
After deep cleaning and purification, recycling through physical or chemical methods is no different from Nirvana regeneration for PET. Zhong Kai, director of Kexin Food and Health Information Exchange Center, said that compared with PET made from petroleum, the regenerated PET can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 59% and energy consumption by 76%. As an effective recycling method of waste plastics, PET recycling plays an important role in the exploration and improvement of waste management system, and has practical significance in promoting the achievement of the "double carbon" goal.
At the same time, whether rPET is really applied to the food field has become a topic of common concern in the industry. According to the Survey Report on Chinese Consumers' rPET Cognition (2022) released by Kexin Food and Health Information Exchange Center, 73.39% of consumers will actively recycle or reuse waste beverage bottles in their daily life, and 62.84% of consumers express positive intention to use PET recycling in food; For rPET used as food packaging materials, more than 90% of consumers are most concerned about its safety. "It can be seen that Chinese consumers generally have a positive attitude towards the use of rPET in food packaging, and ensuring safety is a necessary prerequisite." Zhong Kai said.
It is understood that rPET has been allowed to be used for food packaging in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, Thailand, India and other G20 member countries and regions due to its environmentally friendly characteristics. Africa is also accelerating to increase the production capacity of related enterprises. At the same time, China is the world's largest plastics recycling site, including food grade rPET factories. At present, food grade rPET is exported overseas.
Zhong Kai introduced that re manufacturing PET beverage bottles into food grade rPET can not only reduce the use of original PET and reduce the consumption of non renewable resources such as oil, but also improve the cycle times of rPET through scientific and strict processing technology, and its safety has been verified in Europe and the United States. Recycling recycled PET in the food field is also an effective recycling method of waste plastics, which plays an important role in the exploration and improvement of the waste management system, and has practical significance in promoting the achievement of the "double carbon" goal. The real application of rPET in the field of food, on the one hand, should be based on safety assessment and pre and post supervision, on the other hand, we expect the whole society to work together to promote the high value application of rPET and promote the development of circular economy.