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How does PET plastic recycling work?

At Incom Resources Recovery (Tianjin) Co., Ltd., we are dedicated to providing valuable information to help you understand the process of recycling PET plastic and its importance for our environment.

About PET Plastic

PET, short for Polyethylene Terephthalate, is a commonly used plastic polymer. It is known for its lightweight, durability, and versatility, which makes it suitable for a wide range of applications, including beverage bottles, food packaging, clothing fibers, and more. PET plastic is recognized by the resin identification code "1" and is highly recyclable.

The Importance of PET Plastic Recycling:

Environmental Impact

PET plastic waste poses a significant threat to our environment. When not properly recycled, it can take hundreds of years to decompose, leading to pollution of landfills and oceans. By recycling PET plastic, we can conserve natural resources, reduce energy consumption, and prevent the release of harmful greenhouse gases.

Economic Benefits

PET plastic recycling also offers economic advantages. The recycled PET material, commonly known as rPET, can be used to manufacture new products, reducing the need for virgin plastic production. This not only saves costs but also stimulates the circular economy, creating job opportunities and fostering sustainable growth.

The PET Plastic Recycling Process:

Collection and Sorting:

The first step in PET plastic recycling is the collection and Classification of plastic waste. 

Channel of Collection:

Different sources such as residential recycling programs, commercial establishments, and waste management centers contribute to the collection process.

Classification of plastics:

Recognize bottles through near-infrared spectroscopy analysis technology, high-speed CCR camera recognition and metal sensing technology to remove impurities such as the variegated, non-PET and metal, et. The impurities missed by automatic sorting are removed by manual inspection to ensure that high-purity PET bottles are obtained to start the next process.


Once the PET has been collected it is compressed for ease of transport. PET has advantages over other recyclable packaging materials in that is extremely light and can be squeezed into small bales. This reduces the emissions associated with transport.


These compressed bales of PET bottles are then sent to a pet plastic processing plant. It is here that the bottles are processed so they can be turned into recycled PET (rPET) ready to be turned back into packaging.

The PET bottles are separated into their colour streams and then ground up into small crushed flakes.

Washing & Decontamination

The PET flakes are then washed as they contain ground up lids, rings and even labels. The cleaning process removes them, as well as other contaminants such as glue.

After the washing process, they are converted into a high-temperature decontamination section where migrated post-consumer substances and flavors are removed. These migrate into the material for example because of misusing PET bottles for non-food liquors. Further, during this process step the mechanical properties are increased again up to the values of virgin material. Depending on the recycling technology, the material is melted either before or after this step and solid contaminants are separated by a melt filter.

Melting and Pelletizing

In the melting stage, the dried PET flakes are heated and melted down to form a molten plastic. This molten plastic is then extruded through a die, creating thin strands that are rapidly cooled and cut into small pellets. These pellets, also known as nurdles, are the raw material used in the manufacturing of various PET products.

How does PET plastic recycling work?

End-Product Manufacturing

The final step in the PET plastic recycling process involves the transformation of the pellets into new products. The rPET pellets can be used to produce a wide range of items, including beverage bottles, food containers, polyester fibers for clothing, carpets, and more. These products made from recycled PET help reduce the demand for virgin plastic and promote a sustainable, circular economy.

The Future of PET Plastic Recycling

As we move forward, the need for efficient PET plastic recycling becomes increasingly vital. Innovations in recycling technologies, such as enhanced sorting capabilities and advanced mechanical recycling methods, continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the recycling process. Additionally, increased awareness and public participation in recycling initiatives contribute to a more sustainable future.


In conclusion, PET plastic recycling plays a crucial role in reducing environmental impact, conserving resources, and promoting a sustainable economy. Understanding the intricacies of the PET plastic recycling process empowers us to make informed decisions and take actionable steps towards a greener future. By choosing to recycle PET plastic and supporting the use of recycled PET products, we contribute to the preservation of our planet for generations to come.

Learning Center:

The Differences Between PVC and RPET Material

The differences between Recycled plastic pellets and plastic regrinds

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