If you were to pick a Plastic of the Year for 2020, what would it be?
Considering the amount of innovation and in-market traction associated with the material, my choice would be recycled polyethylene terephthalate. In fact, I’d pick rPET as PoY already, even though it’s only September.
Highlighting a plastic may be considered by some a counterculture choice in 2020 in the wake of a growing flood of negative press over the last several years. In reaction, some brands have moved into alternative packaging material choices, for example bottles made of aluminum or — more surprisingly — paper, instead of the previous default choice of PET.
Yet, consider the utility of rPET in an era of heightened environmental awareness and you can understand why, remarkably and against a general anti-plastics sentiment, rPET is growing in popularity and volumes. The foundation rests on the fact that rPET is a reuse of widely popular PET, which is recycled at a rate of around 30%.
In fact, the global rPET market is estimated to be expanding at a CAGR of 8% for the period 2019 to 2026 when it is projected to be valued at around $12.5 billion, according to a March 2020 press release from Acumen Research and Consulting (ARC).
Helping drive this market are a number of brand initiatives centered on internal or external recycling and packaging sustainability goals focused on rPET as seen in this slideshow review of Packaging Digest articles published over the past 12 months.