PET bottles can also be used to produce lamps. And how? The Spanish designer Alvaro Catalán de Ocón shows us how. He designed stylish lamps around the used bottles as part of a project in Bogota in Columbia.



The small runabout car Opel Adam is not only produced in Germany, it also offers a number of sustainable features. Old bottle caps from PET bottles have been made into car bumpers. Because the caps form the basis of a plastic granulate which is used to make, among other things, bumper mountings and headlamp housing.

Picture source: © GM Company



The Capped Out Chair from BRC Design consists of hundreds of colourful bottle caps. Benjamin Rollins Caldwell developed this creative armchair with great attention to detail. The former bottle caps are attached together with zip ties over a steel construction giving the chair its special structure and colourful appearance.



The Czech artist Veronika Richterová shows just what you can do with PET bottles if you have creative and innovative ideas. She makes fascinating sculptures out of used PET bottles – animals, plants, chandeliers, sofas and even a bra are included in her collection. She enjoys working with PET bottles because of their transparency and lightness and also of course because they are available everywhere. Richterová's PET art has already been on display for visitors to admire in exhibitions throughout Europe.



It was originally developed for use on US Navy ships, nowadays it is a classic design piece for dining rooms: the "Navy Chair" by Emeco. After 66 years, the company has decided to present the chair for indoors and outdoors in a new material and instead of using aluminium, to use recycled PET bottles. 111 bottles are delivered by Coca-Cola to make one chair. The new version from 60 percent recycled material is, thanks to PET, not only stylish but also environmentally friendly.



Used PET bottles can deliver even more – for example a light source for simple housings. How does it work? The idea comes from students from the University of St. Gallen. The plastic bottle is filled with water and a small amount of bleach and then installed in the roof of the hut so that half the bottle juts out above the top. The water in the bottle now diffuses the daylight in the entire room below the bottle. The illuminating power of the bottle is equivalent to a 55 watt light bulb.

More on the initiative Light of Light



Honduras, 2005. A poor village in the north of the province Yoro. A funny German guy walks around with brochures. He shows pictures of neat, colourful houses to poor people, the unemployed, day labourers who live in temporary, run-down huts. "You could also have one of these", he announces to the amazed village dwellers. It isn't much easier to believe him when he explains what the houses are made of and the conditions required to build them: you need lots of people. They need to have a lot of time to spare. And you need empty plastic bottles to build them.



It sounds incredible and yet so simple. With the help of the sun's rays and PET bottles, water is sterilized and made drinkable. The water is filled in transparent PET or glass bottles which are laid in the sun for 6 hours. In this time, the UV rays of the sun kill the germs that cause diarrhoea. The so-called SODIS method helps to prevent diarrhoea and so saves human lives. This is urgently required because over 4,000 children die every day from diarrhoeal diseases.

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The Taiwanese architect Arthur Huang developed a method in which plastic waste is moulded into hollow forms and can therefore be used again as building material. The walls of the "EcoArk" building in Taipeh consist of 1.5 million of these shapes.

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Forum PET in the German Plastics
Packaging Industry Association (IK).
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Recycling in Germany: PET bottles setting the trend

Bad Homburg (Germany), 14 February 2018 – PET beverage bottles already meet the key requirements in the current debate on plastic recycling. Germany’s firmly established recycling system from manufacturing to recycling PET bottles has played a decisive role, placing the German PET market ahead of the EU plastic strategy just published. This eliminates the issue of export restrictions applicable to plastic waste via China in PET bottle disposal.

Photos of PET bottles floating around the oceans have coloured our perception of what’s actually happening in Germany regarding PET bottles according to Dr. Isabell Schmidt, consultant for Environment and Sustainability at the IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen, the German Association for Plastics Packaging and Films, and responsible for the PET forum: “PET beverage bottle recycling in Germany is a perfect example of efficient recycling management.”

98 percent of disposable PET bottles are recycled
Almost ninety-nine percent of mandatory PET deposit bottles are collected for recycling in Germany according to the latest study, Aufkommen und Wiederverwertung von PET-Getränkeverpackungen in Deutschland (PET beverage packaging volume and recycling in Germany) published in 2016 by the German Society for Packaging Market Research (GVM); 93.5% of disposable and reusable bottles collected are recycled – and up to 98% for disposable deposit bottles. “The disposal bottle deposit in Germany has secured these high quotas,” according to Schmidt. This has proven to be a successful strategy in the fifteen years after its introduction.

Recycling takes priority with PET – 34% of the recycled material is processed into new PET bottles according to the GVM study. Other users include the film industry (27%), textile fibre manufacturers (23%) and other applications such as tape and cleaning agent container production (16%). Eighty percent is recycled within Germany, and the rest is mostly exported to destinations near Germany’s borders. PET material exports to China have seen a steady decrease, so restrictions on plastic waste exports from Germany to China only apply to a limited extent in the German PET industry.

Extensive recycling capacity already available

More to the point, separate waste collection has kept the European recycling industry growing in recent years, especially with regard to the recycling capacity available for PET. “PET is a high-demand recycled material,” says Schmidt. Further investment in developing the sorting and recycling infrastructure – a key requirement in the new EU-plastic strategy – had already been in the works by the time the German Packaging Act was passed at federal level in 2017. PET packaging from the recycling bag or bin should see even more recycling as a result.

The German PET industry has been practising cooperation along the entire value-added chain for years as now required by the EU Plastics Strategy. Founded in 2014, the RAL quality-control association for PET beverage packaging has seen manufacturers, bottlers and recyclers working together on closed recycling loops. The industry promotes processing recycled PET into new beverage bottles – “Bottle-to-bottle recycling is one of the most important topics in sustainable use of recycled PET,” according to Schmidt. The quality-control association is mainly committed to increasing the amounts of recycled materials used in new packaging.

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