A consortium of top consumer brands have unveiled food-grade PET plastic bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic; the plastic was created using a process from green biotech company Carbios that “supercharges an enzyme naturally occurring in compost heaps that normally breaks down leaf membranes of dead plants.” Participating brands believe the technology will help boost the circular economy.
Brands including L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe have created sample bottles for some of their leading products, including Biotherm, Perrier, Pepsi Max and Orangina. Together, these brands will work to scale the technology to help meet the global demand for sustainable packaging solutions. In September 2021, Carbios will break ground on a demonstration plant, before launching a 40,000 tons capacity industrial facility by 2025, the company says.
With the Carbios enzymatic recycling technology, these companies and others will soon be able to “keep valuable material in the circular economy, reduce waste and take another step toward a truly closed loop system,” says Ron Khan, Global VP of Packaging – Beverages, with PepsiCo.
Carbios says that by adapting the naturally occurring enzyme, they can use it to break down any kind of PET plastic, regardless of color or complexity, into its building blocks, which can then be turned back into “like-new, virgin-quality plastic.” Because Carbios’ recycling process works under mild conditions, it could also lower the carbon footprint of PET waste treatment by saving 30% of CO2 emissions compared to a conventional end of life mix of incineration and landfill.
Carbios will license its technology to PET manufacturers worldwide.
This is another example in a growing body of evidence that suggests a shift is taking place in the context of sustainability management. Historically, the emphasis in sustainability management has been directed to doing less harm and achieving operational efficiencies, wrote E+E Leader author Harun Asad earlier this week. “Now the tide is changing. Driven by escalating customer demand, there is a need to direct sustainability efforts toward innovative business models, products and markets that meet the changing needs and expectations of sustainably-minded customers,” he wrote.