Carbios, L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe have announced that they have produced the world’s first food-grade PET plastic bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic.
Each of the drinks companies in the consortium has produced sample bottles using the technology.
After 10 years of research, Carbios has created a new process to supercharge enzymes that normally break down leaf membranes in plants and are found in compost heaps.
These enzymes have been adapted by Carbios to break down any PET (regardless of colour or complexity) into its building blocks. This can then be turned into a virgin-quality plastic.
In September this year, Carbios plans to open a demonstration plant, before launching a 40,000 tonnes per year industrial facility in 2025.
Carbios chief executive Jean Claude Lumaret said: “In a world first, we have created food-grade clear bottles from enzymatically recycled coloured and complex plastic with identical properties to virgin PET, and in partnership with the consortium, we have proved the viability of the technology with the world’s leading brands. This is a truly transformational innovation that could finally close the loop on PET plastic supply globally, so that it never becomes a waste.”
Nestlé Waters head of packaging material science and environmental sustainability Jean-Francois Briois added: “It is very exciting to see that the quality of the prototype bottles made from coloured recycled PET materials is virtually identical to clear virgin PET.
“When we reach industrial scale, this enzymatic recycling technology will enable us to produce high-quality rPET bottles and help Nestlé Waters in our journey to boost the circular economy and reduce the use of virgin plastics.”