Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) began funding Dutch startup CuRe Technology, which is developing a process for transforming difficult-to-recycle plastic polyester waste into high-quality recycled PET.
CCEP, the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, says that the backing for CuRe Technology comes from CCEP Ventures, their innovation investment fund. This investment should help CuRe take its “polyester rejuvenation” technology from their pilot plant in Emmen to commercial readiness, according to the bottler.
The startup plans to initially apply its end-to-end partial depolymerization recycling process to turn opaque and difficult-to-recycle food grade PET into high-quality rPET that can be used for food and drink packaging in one continuous process on the same site, CCEP said.
“Once operational, CuRe has the potential to support CCEP’s ambition, in partnership with the Coca-Cola Company in Western Europe, to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade,” the bottler said. “This will contribute to removing of a total of over 200,000 metric tons of virgin oil-based PET from CCEP’s packaging portfolio a year and support the transition to a circular economy for PET packaging.”
CuRe said that 91% of all polyester products are not currently being recycled due to color, contamination, or because they contain additives.
“Depolymerization recycling technologies complement existing mechanical polymer recycling processes,” CCEP noted. “They have the potential to upcycle lower-grade PET that cannot currently be recycled via mechanical recycling means and is instead currently downcycled, incinerated, or sent to landfill.”
Coca-Cola European Partners and Coca-Cola in Western Europe previously pledged that by 2023 they will ensure that at least 50% of their PET bottle content comes from recycled content. By 2025 they committed to collecting a can or bottle for every one sold and ensuring that all packaging is 100% recyclable.
Joe Franses, vice president of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners, said that their investment in the Dutch startup offers a way to access the recycled material volume needed to deliver on their 100% rPET goal for PET bottles.