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Valorization of recycled PET for the development and manufacture of TNT

Sustainable Plastics Project – RECPET

This project aims at, simultaneously, the recovery of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and the introduction of biopolymers in the manufacture of non-woven fabric (TNT), intended for the manufacturing, automotive and medical industries. To this end, it is necessary to define initial requirements in relation to the characteristics of the product inherent to each application, as well as in relation to the manufacturing process of TNTs and raw materials with possibility of use, such as recycled PET (rPET).

The raw material is post-consumer PET bottles from selective collection and non-differentiated collection. The technical specifications are PET packaging waste as a mixture of bottles, flasks and other hollow bodies, emptied of their contents, perforated and flattened, packed in bales. Batches of raw material are classified between waste from selective collection and waste from undifferentiated collection, the main difference of which is the level of contaminants.

Obtaining recycled fibers from textiles is also considered an important strategy to ensure the future supply of raw materials, but it still presents major challenges for its implementation. The solutions obtained from PET bottles resort to the use of mechanical and thermal recycling processes.

Recycled PET fibers are used in various types of textile substrates including non-woven fabrics for different applications. Construction, the automotive sector, geotextiles and hygiene are examples of application areas. Currently, more than 200,000 tons of recycled PET fibers are used in the production of nonwovens. By 2025, it is estimated to grow to over 300 000 tonnes, provided the necessary post-consumer waste volumes are available (Edana, 2018).