PET bottle categorisation tool

In the UK 580,000 tonnes of plastic bottles are disposed of each year, with approximately 281,000 tonnes captured for recycling through local authority collections in 2010. Of this, PET bottles make up approximately 50% of the stream, but not all of these bottles are recyclable.

There are numerous elements of bottle design that affect its recyclability and we have worked with key industry players including a selection of soft drinks companies to develop a matrix of recyclability categories.

To help you confidentially calculate your current performance against these recyclability categories we have developed a tool that will help you discover quick wins for improving the categorisation profile, and therefore the recyclability, of your bottles.


"This tool raises the profile of design for recycling and we would like to see it adopted by all those using plastic bottles. If the bottle industry wants to ensure a long term, sustainable, supply of low carbon plastics it needs to only put on the market bottles which can be easily recovered and recycled."

Nick Brown, Associate Director for Recycling, Great Britain, Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd.


Benefits of using the tool

This tool will help to:

  • make separation and reprocessing of PET easier and more efficient;
  • create a stable and affordable supply of high quality rPET; and
  • close the recycling loop and therefore save 1.5 tonnes of CO2 for every 1 tonne of rPET used in place of virgin PET.

This can be achieved by:

  • ensuring soft drinks bottles are designed with recyclability in mind;
  • avoiding using materials that are known to significantly contaminate and reduce the quality of rPET;
  • encouraging collaboration between bottle manufacturers, soft drinks companies and re-processors; and
  • encouraging the use of fewer packaging materials in PET bottles to allow for ease and efficiency of recycling and maximise the amount and quality of food grade material that is processed.

The key elements of bottle design that the tool suggests improvements to recyclability include bottle dimensions, colourants / fillers, barrier coating and layers, closures, closure liners and seals, labels, sleeves, adhesives and base cups.