The world’s two largest bottled water companies, Danone and Nestlé Waters, have teamed up with a California startup to develop and launch at commercial scale a PET plastic bottle made from 100 percent bio-based material.
The joint effort of Danone, Nestlé Waters and Origin Materials, called the NaturALL Bottle Alliance, aims make the technology, which the partners say will enable a 100 percent renewable and recyclable bottle, available to the entire food and beverage industry “in record time.”
It come as other multi-nationals including Coca-Cola and Toyota are also racing to produce 100 percent plant-based plastics at commercial scale — a target that has thus far eluded manufacturers. The market for bio-based PET is projected to reach $13 billion by 2023, according to a market research report.
Last summer Toyota Tsusho, the Toyota Group’s trading arm, invested an undisclosed amount in sustainable technology company Anellotech, which is working to make 100 percent bio-based PET plastic.
And in 2015, Coca-Cola and Virent produced the world’s first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant materials — but at demonstration scale. Coca-Cola has been producing partially bio-based PlantBottle since 2009, a product comprised of 30 percent plant materials.
The newly formed NaturALL Bottle Alliance project uses non-edible biomass feedstocks, such as previously used cardboard and sawdust. The partners say the bio-based PET will be as lightweight, transparent, recyclable and protective of the product as petroleum-based PET.
Danone and Nestlé Waters are providing expertise and teams, as well as financial support to Origin Materials, although the companies did not disclose their investment amount.
Origin Materials has already produced samples of 80 percent bio-based PET in its pilot plant in Sacramento, the companies say. Construction of a “pioneer plant” will begin in 2017, with production of the first samples of 60-plus percent biobased PET to start in 2018. The initial volume goal for this first step is to bring 5,000 metric tons of bio-based PET to the market.
The alliance aims to develop the process for producing at least 75 percent bio-based PET plastic bottles at commercial scale as early as in 2020, scaling up to 95 percent in 2022. The partners say they will continue to conduct research to increase the level of bio-based content, with the objective of reaching 100 percent.
“Our goal is to establish a circular economy for packaging by sourcing sustainable materials and creating a second life for all plastics,” said Frederic Jouin, head of R&D for plastic materials at Danone, in a statement. “We believe it’s possible to replace traditional fossil materials with bio-based packaging materials. By teaming up and bringing together our complementary expertise and resources, the Alliance can move faster in developing 100 percent renewable and recyclable PET plastic at commercial scale.”
The news comes as PepsiCo and biotechnology leader Danimer Scientific have also announced an agreement to develop biodegradable film resins that will help the beverage giant meet its sustainable packaging goals.