PepsiCo Unveils 100% Bio-Based Rival to Coke’s PlantBottle

by | Mar 15, 2011

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PepsiCo says it has developed the world’s first polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle made entirely from plants.

PepsiCo said its bottle, made of switch grass, pine bar, corn husks and other biological materials, “far surpasses existing industry technologies”. It is 100 percent recyclable.

The company said it has created a bottle that looks and feels identical to traditional petroleum-based PET, and offers the same product protection. PepsiCo will pilot production of the new bottle in 2012.  If the pilot is successful, the company will then begin full-scale commercialization.

Coca-Cola introduced its PlantBottle, made from up to 30 percent plant-based materials, in 2009. Last month it struck a deal to allow H.J. Heinz to use the bottle for its ketchup. The PlantBottle is fully recyclable, Coke says.

Coca-Cola also recently formed a joint venture to develop a facility that the companies say will more than double the amount of PET bottles recycled in Great Britain.

PepsiCo expects to broaden the renewable sources used to create its bottle, to eventually include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its foods business.

“This breakthrough innovation is a transformational development for PepsiCo and the beverage industry, and a direct result of our commitment to research and development,” PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said.  “PepsiCo is in a unique position, as one of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses, to ultimately source agricultural byproducts from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally-preferable bottle for our beverages business.”

Non-profit group As You Sow applauded PepsiCo’s announcement. “By reducing reliance on petroleum-based materials and using its own agricultural scraps as feedstock for new bottles, this advancement should deliver a double win for the environment and PepsiCo,” senior program director Conrad Mackerron said.

The unveiling comes just weeks after PepsiCo subsidiary Frito-Lay unveiled a new compostable bag for its SunChips brand. The original compostable SunChips bags were withdrawn after customers complained that they were too noisy.

Other PepsiCo packaging moves include introducing lightweight Eco-Fina bottles for its Aquafina brand of water in 2009, and Naked Juice’s move to a 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic container called the reNEWabottle. PepsiCo says this is a first for a nationally-distributed beverage in the U.S.

Naked Juice is transitioning its 10-oz., 15.2-oz., and 64-oz. juice and juice smoothies to the reNEWabottles. The transition was original slated to complete this past January, but the company now says the move to reNEWabottls will be completed by Earth Day, in April.

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