How are PET bottles recycled

PET beverage bottles

PET - polyethylene terephthalate - is a plastic, or more precisely a polyester. The material is ideal for beverage bottles because it is light, mostly transparent, unbreakable and can be easily shaped. In addition, it does not lose its properties when it is recycled and can be repeatedly processed into high-quality products.

In large refineries, the oil is broken down into molecules with shorter chain lengths. These molecules then become polyethylene terephthalate
(short: PET) manufactured.

Over 1.6 billion PET beverage bottles come into circulation in Switzerland every year. This makes the light, resealable and unbreakable PET bottle the most popular beverage packaging in Switzerland.

Empty PET bottles can be returned to all PET beverage bottle points of sale. But there are also PET containers in schools, communities, companies, at train stations and at various events. There are over 50,000 collection points in Switzerland.

The collected PET bottles are delivered to one of the three sorting centers by rail or truck - some of which have already been pressed into 250kg bales.

Unfortunately, there is always waste in the PET collection. In the sorting centers, on the one hand, the PET is separated from the waste and, on the other hand, the PET beverage bottles are sorted by color (transparent, light blue, brown, green, colored). The sorting systems process up to 150,000 bottles per hour.

The sorted PET bottles are shredded and then separated from the bottle components (lids, labels). The PET obtained is processed in a multi-stage, resource-saving recycling process.

The recycled PET obtained in the recycling process has such a high purity quality that it can be used again for the production of new bottles. New bottles can therefore be created from old PET bottles.

In a first step, a so-called preform is created from the PET recyclate (PET flakes). This preform already has the final bottle neck and the lid thread.

The small preforms can now be transported to the filling systems to save space. There they are blown into the desired bottle shape with hot air and later filled with drinks.

Separate collection

To be collected

  • Only PET beverage bottles with the PET recycling logo
    The rule is: air out - lid on!
    There are three times more bottles when pressed. With you in the carrier bag as well as in the collection container and in the truck.


Do not belong in this group

  • Milk, cream and drinking yoghurt bottles
    (⇒ Separate collection of plastic bottles at most large retailers)
  • Cups for drinks, ice cream, yoghurt etc.
    (⇒ waste)
  • Bottles for detergents and cleaning agents
    (⇒ Separate collection of plastic bottles at most large retailers)
  • Bottles for shampoos and cosmetic applications
    (⇒ Separate collection of plastic bottles at most large retailers)
  • Blister packs (trays) for meat products, salads, vegetables and fruits etc.
    (⇒ waste)
  • Bottles for vinegar, oil and salad dressings
    (⇒ Separate collection of plastic bottles at most large retailers)
  • All waste

You can find out why not all PET belongs in the PET collection on the website of PET-Recycling Switzerland, in the article "Not all PET is allowed in the PET collection" of the SRF program "Espresso" and in the information sheet "False Friends" from PET recycling Switzerland.

Where is collected

Empty PET beverage bottles can be returned to all points of sale. But there are also PET containers in cities and municipalities, in schools and hospitals, at petrol stations, train stations, kiosks and in companies as well as at leisure events: a total of over 50,000 collection points are operated throughout Switzerland.

Benefits of recycling

PET recycling has a significant impact on the environment. Recycling PET beverage bottles reduces the impact on the climate by 74 percent compared to incineration in a waste incineration plant. Because by recycling, the emission of greenhouse gases - mainly CO2 - can be avoided. This benefits the climate. Thanks to PET recycling, it is currently possible to prevent 138,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually in Switzerland.

Associated organization

The regulation on beverage packaging regulates the obligation to take back disposable packaging made of PET. The PRS PET Recycling Switzerland association was founded in 1990 and has been collecting PET beverage bottles ever since.

Today it provides a nationwide disposal network for PET beverage bottles. PET-Recycling-Schweiz has increased its recycling rate to 83% over the last twenty years. A result that can also be seen in an international comparison and even surpasses countries with a deposit regulation. This success is the result of an optimal cooperation between the beverage industry, retail trade and end consumers.

Association PRS
PET recycling Switzerland
Naglerwiesenstrasse 4
8049 Zurich

Tel. +41 (0) 44 344 10 80
Fax +41 (0) 44 344 10 99
[email protected]


Association PRS
PET recycling Switzerland
Agence Suisse romande
ZI En Budron E9
1052 Le Mont sur Lausanne

Tel. +41 (0) 21 653 36 91
[email protected]