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POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE, PET, PETE, POLYESTER

ANSWER

V. Ryan 2011

 

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Study the picture of the fruit packaging and microwavable meal tray.
What polymer is the most suitable for this type of packaging?
 
Polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or PETE.
 
 
 
Why is your named polymer the most suitable? Give three reasons.
 
REASON 1: PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
PET / PETE is a thermoplastic polymer and has good physical properties of strength , ductility, stiffness and hardness. It does not deform / lose its shape, at the temperatures reached by its contents in microwaves / domestic ovens.
It is supplied in a range of colours and in transparent form. This makes it ideal for packaging through which the customer can see a food product, such as a tray for strawberries.
 
REASON 2: RECYCLABILITY - COLLECTION
PET / PETE is 100% recyclable, making ideal for packaging. It is light weight and can be crushed / compressed, making it easy to transport to recycling plants. Most supermarkets have collection points, making it convenient for customers to return their empty packaging. The large proportion of supermarket customers return used PET / PETE packaging. This means that used PET packaging is recycled into new products. Therefore, it could be said that PET is a sustainable material.
 
REASON 3: RECYCLABILITY - REUSE
PET / PETE can be recycled back, either to its original elements or into other products. PET fibres are used in synthetic clothing and other forms of textiles. Although PET based textiles do not have the same ‘feel’ as natural fibres, they are relatively wrinkle free and less expensive. PET fibres are often mixed with natural fibres, combining the properties of both materials. PET fibres can also be used to form products such as wall insulation and clothing.
 
Describe another practical application of your chosen polymer (other than the trays seen above). Explain why it is suitable for this alternative application.
 
Polyester can be used in its fibre form, to manufacture a range of clothing. Most polyester is made of polyethylene terephtalate. Polyester is a versatile textile fibre, as it comes in a range of colours and can be woven into patterns. It is a cheap alternative to natural fibres such as wool. It is often mixed with natural fibres to produce superior clothing, combining their physical properties of increased strength and resilience. It is resistant to solvents, shrinking, stretching and wrinkling and resists tearing. In addition, it is easy to wash, by hand or washing machine.
 
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