Innovation that could close the loop on PET

28 June 2021 | Muriel Cozier

World’s first food-grade PET bottles produced from enzymatically recycled plastic.

A Consortium comprising green biotech company, Carbios, along with four global consumer brands, has unveiled what is said to be the world’s first food-grade PET bottles produced from enzymatically recycled plastic.

The Consortium’s consumer brands which are: L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe, have successfully produced sample bottles based on Carbios’ enzymatic PET recycling technology for some of their products including; Biotherm, Perrier, Pepsi Max and Orangina.

Carbios’ patented process enables a wide variety of PET plastics to be recycled into virgin quality, food grade rPET. Carbios says PET that would otherwise go to waste or incineration can now be brought back into a ‘continuous circular system of recycling.’ The company adds that their process can be carried out at speed, breaking down 97% of plastic in just 16 hours – 10,000 time more efficient than any other biological plastic recycling trial to date.  

Moving to scale the innovation, to meet the demand for sustainable packaging, construction of a 40,000 tonne per year demonstration plant producing the new PET is due to start in September 2021. Completion is slated for 2025.

Carbios’ technology, which is based on an enzyme found in compost that breaks down the leaf membrane of dead plants, is the culmination of nearly 10 years of research and development by the company.  The process works under mild conditions, lowering the carbon footprint of the PET waste treatment, saving 30% of the CO2 emissions compared with a conventional end-of-life mix of incineration and landfill.

Commenting; Carbios’ CEO Jean Claude Lumaret said: ‘…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 close the loop on PET plastic supply globally, so that is never becomes waste.’

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