Post-Consumer Resin Frequently Asked Questions
What kinds of bottles does Alpha currently make with post-consumer resin (PCR)?
Alpha is currently making bottles for specific customers that incorporate post-consumer polyethyelene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is collected in community recycling programs, cleaned, pelletized and approved by the FDA for food contact. The following answers primarily focus on post-consumer PET, however we will update this section frequently so please bookmark this page and refer to it often!
How much PCR can your bottles incorporate?
We can make bottles with 100% PET and HDPE PCR using regrind that has been repelletized; we can also make packaging with smaller percentages of PCR for customers that request it. Because PCR is never completely free of inclusions (visual imperfections), we strongly recommend that customers using PET PCR choose dark colors (amber, dark green, cobalt blue, etc.) or opaque colors instead of light transparent colors. We have also run some successful tests with frosted colorants in 100% post-consumer PET. We recommend that our customers conduct their own compatibility tests with PCR bottles prior to packaging their products in bottles with any level of PCR.
Is the PCR that Alpha uses FDA-approved?
For customers that require FDA-approved resin, Alpha has identified numerous reliable sources for FDA-approved PET PCR. These companies collect, grind, wash, dry, pelletize, crystallize and solid-state the post-consumer PET in a process approved by the FDA for food contact. For HDPE PCR there is currently only one supplier that carries an FDA Letter of Non-Objection, so the supply of FDA-approved HDPE PCR is less stable than the supply of recycled PET.
Will my products come in contact with the post-consumer material, and will that affect the safety of my product?
Alpha Packaging makes monolayer plastic packaging, so the post-consumer regrind will come in contact with any products you put in our bottles and jars. We always recommend that customers conduct compatibility tests with their products in the packaging they plan to purchase, but if you require FDA-approved PCR, we can provide you with the necessary certification for post-consumer PET.
What are the environmental benefits of PCR?
Post-consumer plastics such as PET and HDPE PCR have already been processed from a fossil fuel to plastic, so to reuse the resin in a new PCR bottle does not require the further depletion of new fossil fuels. The more PCR content you put in each bottle, the more impact you can make on the environment, and that is one reason Alpha would like to see each of our PCR customers using 100% post-consumer content in their bottles and jars. We can incorporate smaller percentages of PCR at some of our plants, but the exact percentages depend on the equipment at each plant so please check with your Alpha Sales Representative if you think you would like PCR bottles with less than 100% recycled content.
Is there any risk that Alpha will not be able to get enough post-consumer resin to run my bottles?
There is no projected shortage of post-consumer PET. In fact, according to the PET recycling industry, the recycling rates for both PET and HDPE are on the rise, and as recycling rates continue to rise, the supply of PCR will increase proportionately. For post-consumer HDPE, some recent factors have limited the production supply and driven up costs for the short-term; Alpha is closely monitoring this situation and will update this web site with new information as it becomes available.
What are the drawbacks of PCR?
Because post-consumer PET comes from a wide variety of collection points, and these collection points typically collect a wide variety of PET bottles, even the most rigorous processing and pelletizing cannot eliminate all particulates. The most common complaints about PET PCR are occasional black flecks in the finished bottles. HDPE PCR is generally a little less white than virgin resin, but is not as prone to black flecks and PET PCR. All forms of PCR resin are also subject to some normal color variations from batch to batch, so customers must be willing to accept a slightly wider variation in the color of their finished package.
How does the cost for post-consumer PET compare to virgin PET?
In recent months, the cost for bottles made from post-consumer PET has been slightly higher than for bottles made from virgin PET due to the extensive sorting, cleaning and processing required to recapture the recycled resin. However, as the cost for all petroleum-based raw materials continues to increase, the cost for PCR is expected to remain stable. Also, as more consumers continue to recycle PET packaging, the laws of supply and demand should keep the cost for PCR resin very attractive in comparison to virgin PET.
How does the cost for post-consumer HDPE compare to virgin HDPE?
Because there is only one source of HDPE PCR with an FDA Letter of Non-Objection, and they are experiencing temporary supply issues, the cost of HDPE PCR has recently spiked. Please speak with your Alpha Sales Representative to see how this current pricing situation may affect the cost of your bottles if you convert from virgin HDPE to HDPE PCR.
Can I get samples of Alpha products made with post-consumer resins?
Yes, samples of bottles with PET and HDPE PCR are available online. Currently we have samples made from 100% PET PCR in dark amber, light amber, clear, white, dark green and cobalt blue. (Please note: “clear” PET with post-consumer resin tends to be yellow and is for comparison purposes only.) HDPE PCR is available in white only, in both 25% PCR and 100% PCR. The number of PCR samples per customer may be limited, and we have a limited variety of bottles styles available in each color.
What is the minimum number of PCR bottles I can buy?
Currently, Alpha requires a minimum run of 50,000 units for all packaging containing PCR. Orders may also be subject to a set-up fee and purge charge.