Five Global Companies to Push Plant-Based Packaging

by | Jun 6, 2012

Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co., H.J. Heinz Co., Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble have formed a strategic working group to accelerate the development and use of 100 percent plant-based PET materials and fiber in their products.

The Plant PET Technology Collaborative builds on Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle packaging technology, which is partially made from plants and has demonstrated a lower environmental impact when compared to traditional fossil fuels-based PET plastic bottles. PET, also known as polyethylene terephthalate, is a lightweight plastic that is used in a variety of products including bottles, apparel, footwear and automotive fabric and carpet.

The collaborative aims to support emerging technologies in an effort to move from material partially made from plants to a solution made entirely from plants, the companies said. PTC member companies say they are committed to researching and developing commercial solutions and will drive the development of common methodologies and standards for use of plant-based plastic, including life cycle analyses and universal terminology.

Several other brands have taken steps recently to either make packaging recyclable or shift to plant-based products.

Mars Drinks North American plans to release in fall 2012 two teas for its Flavia single-serve brewing system in recycable packs. Mars changed its manufacturing process to remove the aluminum foil layer from the Flavia Freshpacks and reduce the number of materials used, a move the company says will cut the carbon footprint of the packs by 40 percent.

In March, global food and drinks manufacturer Danone partnered with biotech company Avantium to produce bio-based plastic bottles made from renewable material that won’t threaten food resources. That announcement came just a few months after Coca-Cola signed an agreement with Avantium to develop a plant-based bottle made from polyethylene furanoate, or PEF.

Avantium, a spinoff from oil company Royal Dutch Shell, uses a chemical-catalytic technology called YXY to convert carbohydrates from grains, energy crops and other non-food sources, including waste paper and agricultural residues, into a variety of bio-based materials called furanics. These can then be used to produce PEF.

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