How the plastic is made depends largely on the type of plastic used in the plastic cup. So let's first understand the three different types of plastic used to make plastic cups. The types of plastics used to make plastic cups out there also have a big impact on their environmental impact. The three different types of plastic are PET, RPET, and PLA plastic.
PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, which is the most common type of plastic. It is particularly suitable for bottles and more flexible plastic materials because it is so durable that it can be recycled and used in other RPETs if collected properly. It is also the most commonly used material for making plastic cups as it is widely available and approved for contact with food materials.
The plastic is made from naphtha, the part of crude oil that is made during a refining process in which the oil is broken down into naphtha, hydrogen, and other fractions. The petroleum extract, naphtha, is then turned into plastic through a process called polymerization. The process links ethylene and propylene to form polymer chains that ultimately make PET plastic.
recycled PET plastic
PET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate and it is the most commonly used type of recycled plastic because PET's durability makes it easy to recycle and still guarantees high quality. Recycled PET is becoming a more widely used general-purpose plastic, and more and more companies are experimenting with RPET instead of regular PET to make their products. Especially in the construction industry, more windows are made of RPET plastic. It can actually be an eyeglass frame as well.
When the PET material is sorted, the material is ground into particles called plastic flakes, sort of like pulp. The purity and penetration of these plastic flakes, and how well they are washed and rinsed of bacteria, will determine the quality of recycled plastic. Before the material is dry and ready to be used to produce other materials, it goes through a process to remove unmelted contaminants.
PLA is the abbreviation of PolyLactic Acid, which is a kind of bioplastic. It is the most widely used bioplastic in the world. PLA plastic is widely used as a material for packaging, construction, and other products because it is known as bioplastic. We'll dig into just how friendly it is to the environment later. For example, we can make paper and plastic cups out of PLA plastic. One of the main problems with PLA plastic is that it is in short supply, so its price is much higher than that of PET and RPET plastics.
PLA plastic is a polyester produced from plant-based materials such as cornstarch or sugar cane. When using it to produce PLA plastic, there are several steps. The material used is wet milled where the starch is separated from the rest of the material extracted from the plant material. The starch is then mixed with acid or enzymes and finally heated. Cornstarch is turned into D-glucose, which is then turned into lactic acid through a fermentation process.
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