Companies Team Up to Develop Plant-Based Bottles

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. decompose / ˌdi kəmˈpoʊz / (v) – to become rotten

    Paper takes two to six months to decompose.

  2. degrade / dɪˈgreɪd / (v) – to break down chemically

    Batteries should be thrown away carefully because they can become dangerous when they degrade.

  3. compost / ˈkɒm poʊst / (v) – to gather and store plant material so it can decay and be mixed with soil to enhance its quality

    My grandmother creates fertilizer by composting fallen leaves in her yard.

  4. expose / ɪkˈspoʊz / (v) – to leave something without any covering

    My hair color faded because it was often exposed to the sun.

  5. secure / sɪˈkyʊər / (v) – to succeed in getting or obtaining something

    The board wants to secure money from investors first before the project begins.


Read the text below.

Dutch biochemical company Avantium has partnered with beverage companies Coca-Cola and Carlsberg to develop a new plant-based bottle that can decompose in a year.

Using its newest technology, Avantium has created a plastic material called polyethylene furanoate (PEF), which is made purely from plant sugars. Common petroleum-based plastic usually takes more than a century to decompose, but PEF degrades in one year if composted. If it is not composted and only left exposed to air, PEF can still decompose after only three years. This new plant-based plastic also has better barrier properties, which let it contain gas better than regular plastic.

The plant-based bottle project is part of an initiative by The Paper Bottle Company, a joint venture between packaging developers and bottle manufacturers who aim to create eco-friendly bottles. The team plans to use PEF as the inner lining for an entirely recyclable paper bottle for beverages.

According to data, over 300 million metric tons of plastic are produced yearly worldwide, and only around 10% are recycled. The rest of the unrecycled waste ends up in landfills for years because it does not decompose easily. To cut back on plastic waste, Coca-Cola and Carlsberg plan to use these new PEF bottles as a sustainable alternative to their current plastic bottles.

Currently, the project is still in its initial stage. According to Avantium’s chief executive, the company hopes to secure funding for the mass production of PEF bottles before the year ends. It also plans to make the plant-based bottles commercially available by 2023. In addition, the company is exploring the possibility of using PEF for product wrappers and food packaging.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Where else would this plant-based innovation be useful (e.g. beauty product packaging)? Discuss.
• Do you think that paper bottles will totally replace plastic bottles and cans in the future? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think the use of plastic bottles should be banned totally? Why or why not?
• What do you think the ideal bottle design is (e.g. what material, what shape)? Discuss.