A consortium that includes Nestlé, PepsiCo and Suntory has announced the successful production of the world’s first food-grade PET plastic bottles that use Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process.
Each company within the consortium – which includes Carbios, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo, L’Oreal and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe – has successfully manufactured sample bottles for products including Perrier, Pepsi Max and Orangina.
The initial food-grade bottles have been produced from enzymatically recycled plastic and mark a major milestone in the validation of Carbios’ technology.
After nearly ten years of research, Carbios has created a new process to supercharge enzymes that naturally occur in compost heaps and normally break down leaf membranes.
Carbios says it has now ‘fine-tuned’ the technology and optimised the enzyme to break down any kind of plastic (regardless of colour or complexity) into its individual chemical components – allowing the creation of new high-quality, food-grade PET packaging. The firm says 97% of plastic can be broken down in 16 hours.
Carbios will licence its technology to PET manufacturers worldwide, in an effort to accelerate the global adoption of enzymatic recycling of all kinds of PET-based products.
The industrial chemistry firm will also break ground on a demonstration plant in September, before launching a 40,000 tonnes capacity industrial facility by 2025.
Jean Claude Lumaret, CEO of Carbios, said: “In a world first, we have created food-grade clear bottles from enzymatically recycled coloured and complex plastic with identical properties to virgin PET, and in partnership with the consortium, we have proved the viability of the technology with the world’s leading brands.
“This is a truly transformational innovation that could finally fully close the loop on PET plastic supply globally, so that it never becomes waste.”
Michelle Norman, director of external affairs and sustainability, Suntory Beverage and Food Great Britain & Ireland, said: “Bottle to bottle recycling is an incredibly sustainable and resource efficient way to manage PET plastics to ensure they don’t end up as waste and today’s announcement will ensure a valuable material like plastic stays in circulation and out of the environment, which is ultimately what we’re striving for.
“I’m excited not just by the potential this holds for our much-loved drinks brands, but the entire food and drink industry.”
By Emma Upshall
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