Polyethylene terephthalate or as it is more commonly known PET or PETE is a polymer resin that is part of the polyester family. It has a wide range of uses including synthetic fibers, food, beverage and other liquid containers.
PET is simply referred to as polyester when it is used in textile applications. The name PET or PETE is used mainly in packaging applications. Some of these are used in bottles for soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, edible oils, pharmaceuticals, and detergents. PET is one of the most common plastics being used by consumers.
The most common uses of PET as a packaging material is its use as a raw material for bottles and other containers of consumer goods. Over 60 percent of global production of PET is used in the manufacture of synthetic fibers. Bottle production accounts for about 30 percent of the PET produced.
The major advantage of PET was that it did not contaminate the contents. Another was lightweight and strength. The material was resistant to breaking unlike glass.
The main problem was recycling. PET is inert and takes an extremely long time to degrade. The empty cylinders would also take an enormous amount of space in landfills if they were not crushed. The first attempt at recycling goes back to 1977. Today PET bottles which are usually clear or green colored have the identification number 1 on the bottom which makes them easier to identify in the recycling stream.