PET recycling equipment is the equipment used for the recycling of polyethylene terephthalate, which is a polymer resin used in food and beverage containers. PET containers are the plastic containers, such as soda bottles, milk bottles, tubes for candy, water bottles, and containers for cold cuts. PET plastics can be recycled into a number of useful items besides new containers. Some examples of things recycled PET plastics can be used for are polar fleece, polyester fabrics, and Dacron (for sails for spinnakers). Further, it can be alloyed with other materials. When coated with aluminum, it is less permeable and more opaque. It can also be blended with glass particles or fibers, to make it more durable and stiffer. PET plastics are coded on the bottom with the number 1 enclosed in the universal recycling symbol. Post-consumer PET is collected sent to a Materials Recovery Facility and sorted, then crushed and baled for sale to recycling companies.
Grinders are the first equipment used on the baled plastic. They shred the plastic into flakes. The flakes are then fed into the next piece of equipment: a reactor, where they are chemically treated to remove anything that is not plastic (such as bits of labels). The cleaned flakes are then put into a blender. Here they are mixed with virgin plastic flakes (of the same type and color) to form recycled plastics. This plastic is then molded into shapes such as bottles, and other food containers. There are two different methods for molding the containers, each using different PET recycling equipment.
In the first method, called two-step molding, two types of PET recycling equipment are used. The first machine creates a preform, which looks something like a test tube. It is given threading for a cap at this point, and the walls are relatively thick because they will be changed by the second machine. The second step, called stretch blow molding, is done by a machine that inflates the preform to the wished shape, thinning out the plastic walls of the preform. The second method is called one-step molding. The PET equipment used in this process can do the entire process, from creating the preform to inflating the container to produce a finished product. This works especially well for products that are non-standard shapes, such as jars, flasks, flat oval or circular shapes, etc.
The use of PET recycling equipment is a great boon, as it keeps billions of tons of plastic from going into landfills and otherwise cluttering up our planet.