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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.