The Coca-Cola Company partners with Virent, Gevo and Avantium to develop commercial solutions for plastic bottles made entirely from plants
15 December 2011
The Coca-Cola Company announced multi-million dollar partnership agreements with Virent, Gevo and Avantium to accelerate development of the first commercial solutions for next-generation PlantBottle packaging made 100% from plant-based materials. The agreements followed an in-depth two-year analysis of different technologies by The Coca-Cola Company’s R&D team and technical advisory board.
This effort to commercialize a plastic bottle made entirely from plants builds on the company’s introduction and roll-out of its first generation PlantBottle package which was the first ever recyclable PET beverage bottle made from up to 30% plant-based material. Since introduced in 2009, the Company has already distributed more than 10 billion PlantBottle packages in 20 countries worldwide.
While the technology to make bio-based materials in a lab has been available for years, we believe Virent, Gevo and Avantium are companies that possess technologies that have high potential for creating them on a global commercial scale within the next few years. This is a significant R&D investment in packaging innovation and is the next step toward our vision of creating all of our plastic packaging from responsibly sourced plant-based materials.—Rick Frazier, Vice President, Commercial Product Supply, The Coca-Cola Company
Agreements with these three companies will help The Coca-Cola Company support its long-term commitments through sustainable practices in sourcing and packaging supply. While Virent, Gevo and Avantium will follow their own route to make bio-based materials, all materials will be developed in line with Company and industry recycling requirements.
Virent’s BioForming uses patented catalytic chemistry to convert plant-based sugars and agricultural residues into a full range of products identical to those made from petroleum, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and chemicals for plastics and fibers.
Virent’s plant-based paraxylene (PX), trademarked BioFormPX, will be used in Coca-Cola’s existing supply chain to make 100% bio-based PTA that will be mixed with bio-based MEG to produce PlantBottle PET Resin with 100% bio-based content.
Virent is targeting 2015 for the first commercial plant opening. The majority of the PX produced from Virent’s first plant will be allocated for purchase by The Coca-Cola Company’s supply chain partners for the Company’s product packaging. Virent will reserve the remainder of the BioFormPX for market development in complementary PET and polyester applications.
Gevo will create renewable paraxylene from plant-derived isobutanol. Isobutanol is a four-carbon fermentation alcohol that can be converted into paraxylene using known chemical processes. Gevo has previously announced supplying Japanese chemical giant Toray with lab-scale quantities of renewable paraxylene. Toray has successfully converted Gevo’s paraxylene into PET films and fibers.
Avantium will use its patented YXY furanics technology to produce 100% bio-based PEF (Poly-ethylene-furanoate) bottles. (Earlier post.) Currently PET is the most widely used oil-based polyester. Based on the performance of the new PEF material, Avantium believes PEF will become the next-generation bio-based polyester.
First milestones include the start-up of an Avantium PEF pilot plant, officially opened on 8 December in Geleen, the Netherlands. The pilot plant, with a capacity of 40 tons per year, produces PEF material for application development. The collaboration with The Coca-Cola Company is key to secure a smooth transition into the mass production phase of PEF bottles. It is expected that other large co-development partners will join from early 2012.
PEF can be derived from any biomass feedstock containing carbohydrates, such as sugarcane, agricultural residues, plants and grains. Using YXY as a fast and efficient chemical-catalytic technology, these carbohydrates can be converted into a wide variety of bioplastics.
Avantium is also actively discussing partnerships with other leading brand owners to develop PEF bottles, fibers and film. In the longer term Avantium will license its YXY technology to enable large scale, world-wide production and use of its bio-based plastic materials.
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