Unilever, Dutch chemicals start-up Ioniqa, and PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) resin producer Indorama Ventures (IVL) have joined forces to develop a food packaging system that converts PET waste into virgin grade material.
According to plasticsinpackaging.com, non-recycled PET waste such as colored bottles are broken down to base molecule level, while separating the color and other contaminants, and are transformed to become PET that is equal to virgin grade quality according to IVL.
If proven successful at industrial scale, in future it will be possible to convert all PET back into high quality, food-grade packaging. The three partnering companies believe that this fully circular solution could lead to an industry transformation, since the new technology can be repeated indefinitely.
Sanjeev Das, on unilever.com, wrote that the next step is scaling this technology up. Ioniqa is now introducing this newly validated technology to a 10,000-tonne capacity plant in the Netherlands. Once that’s in place, they’ll start supplying to Indorama, who will convert this Ioniqa product into PET resin to be used in our packaging.
Das and Unilever estimate that the company can have circular PET ready for use by the third quarter of 2019. “But we don’t want to keep it to ourselves,” Das writes. “We believe this technology has the potential to revolutionize plastic recycling and transform the industry at large. So, we want to share what we’re doing with other companies who, like us, are keen to see an end to plastic waste and help in keeping the planet clean.”
Last year, Unilever made a commitment that all of its plastics packaging will become reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
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