For the first time ever and most significantly, the renowned PET series was held in Japan. Japan is one of the leading technology countries for both PET resin and bottle trade, owing to its supply and demand for PET resin for soft drink containers. Japan’s economy experienced a sluggish period referred to as the “Lost two Decade” from 1990 to 2010. Yet even with its flat economic standing, population decline and aging society, total volume of soft drink and mineral water consumption continue to rise.
Japan’s production volume of PET bottle in 2014 is 550,000 tons. Plus Japan has one of the world highest PET bottle collection ratio of almost 90% as compared to other countries in the region, More surprising, the quality of the recycled PET bale is superior quality with more than 80% being almost free of PET color or other contaminants.
A key reason why recycled PET from Japan is rated 1st class could be due to self-discipline culture in Japan where the consumer voluntarily remove closure and label from PET bottle and wash PET bottle clean after use. At this JPET summit, PET resin manufacturers, container suppliers, brand owners, recyclers from nearly 20 countries convened and had a great opportunity to exchange the latest information and forged important business partnership. Some of the key takeaways are:
1. Towards a sustainable society
Technology advancements related to PET by the Japanese government and private companies is key to efforts in realizing a sustainable society. Brand owners like Suntory have taken the initiative to improve on lightweighting and recycling of containers, including PET bottles and labels, and as a result the consumers are benefitting from positive efforts of such brand owners.
2. New catalysis such as aluminum for quality improvement of recycled PET resin
Some of Japanese makers are actively developing new PET resin production technology. To improve quality of rPET resin, new catalysts such as from aluminium is being developed. Compared to Germanium, and Titan, Aluminum catalysis shows great durability for rPET. One of Japanese makers is aiming to bring this aluminum catalysis to the main arena.
3. Lightweight PET bottle by brand owners
Symbolically Japanese consumers place high standards on food and beverage safety and security. For many years in Japan, the normal height for closure is at least 28mmφ in diameter especially so when the bottle has to withstand strong fall. Yet brand owners are still clamoring for lightweight PET bottle and label. Remarkably, both container manufacturers and brand owners are competing to come up with the best technology for this lightweight technology race. In the lightweight competition of 2L mineral water PET bottle, Suntory and Kirin have already entered the 20’s gram platform. Improvement for grasping and well designing of PET bottle in lightweight race is still on going, as well as keeping vertical resistance of bottle.
4. Barrier property improvement
The use of multilayer bottle, such as nylon is one of typical hazardous material for recycling. On the other hand, inadequate barriers for hot drink vendor machines are still a problem. Presently MHI Food Machinery Company has developed DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) to coat bottles with thin layer of carbon coating. Due to cost factors, use of DLC has remained limited to wine and Japanese sake bottle with value-added contents, but because of its high barrier properties its use may expand in the future.
5. High PET bottle collection ratio and exports to overseas
Due to its high quality and quantity, Japan’s PET recycle bale and flake garner strong demand from neighboring countries particularly China, which imports about half of total collected PET. Owing to its high quality, collected PET are sometimes traded at a higher price compared to virgin PET price thus presenting more challenges for Japan recyclers.
6. PET bottle recycling technology development
In line with Japan’s push for resource saving and to realize sustainable society, collection and recycling of PET continue to thrive. Introduced in 2011 Suntory’s the first mechanical recycling PET for use in beverage containers gained widespread approval among leading beverage brand owners such as Kirin. On the other hand, chemical recycling PET is also expanding in parallel. Efforts to improve recycled PET quality and reduce production costs by big brand owners are paving for further technology advancement in the industry.
This may be the first time ever that the renowned PET series was held in Japan – one of the leading technology countries for PET resin bottles trade where consumer’s high standards on food and beverage safety and security have both container manufacturers and brand owners constantly racing to come up with the best technology for the market. Hence it is important to continue hosting future JPET in Japan as it will certainly contribute greatly towards the progress of technology and business for international PET world.