The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) has developed new bale quality grading specifications for postconsumer polyethylene terephthalate (EPT) bales. Designed to provide incentives to suppliers to improve recycled PET quality, the "grades" are defined based on the PET fraction of an incoming material load. To accompany the gradings, NAPCOR has also developed a PET material test audit; both have been passed on to the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers (APR) where they are expected to undergo final review prior to integration into the model bale specification for PET.
"Members of NAPCOR's Bale Quality Committee developed the gradings and bale audit test to send a message to the marketplace that the PET reclaiming industry needs better PET bales. We are willing to reward quality and we've developed a way to measure it," said PET reclaimer Byron Geiger, president of Custom Polymers PET (Athens, AL), and member of both NAPCOR and the APR. "PET reclaimers have struggled with poor bale quality and declining yields in recent years. These new specifications give us a way to provide specific feedback to the material recovery facilities we buy from and encourage them to improve quality."
The grindings and audit test method were developed by PET reclaimers using NAPCOR bale composition data, as well as the results of material audits performed at their facilities in the United States and Canada. Gradings are based on the weight of PET containers in a given PET sample, taken as a percentage of the weight of the total sample, or the "PET fraction." They include A, B, C, and F grades with PET fractions ranging from 94%T and up in an "A" grade to 72% and below an "F" grade.
Bale gradings and audit method are relevant to all postconsumer PET sources - whether deposit, California CRV, or curbside. They are intended to provide voluntary, industry-approved guidelines for marketers of PET bales, and to bring greater standardization into the marketplace, explained NAPCOR.
"The push to add quality gradings to the model PET bale specifications came from our PET reclaimer members working collaboratively on a way to provide clear market incentives and metrics to help improve material quality," said Tom Busard, NAPCOR chairman, chief procurement officer for Plastipak Packaging Inc., and president of Clean Tech, Plastipak's recycling affiliate. "The gradings are intended to help differentiate the marketplace and provide consistent feedback to MRFs in order to support investment in best practices."
NAPCOR and the APR have a long history of collaboration on PET recycling, with the APR serving as the plastics recycling industry's recognized source for bale specifications, test methods, and other plastics recycling guidance documents. It is anticipated that the APR will incorporate the new gradings and bale audit test method into a revised model bale specification for PET once their internal review process is complete.