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Drinking from Plant-Based Bottles
We could soon be drinking our soft drinks and beer from plant-based bottles made from sustainably grown crops.
A Netherlands based biochemicals company, Avantium, are hoping to kick-start investment in a pioneering project that aspires to make plastics from plant sugars rather than fossil fuels.
This innovative process will involve breaking down sustainable plant sugars into simple chemical structures that can be rearranged to form a new plant-based plastic.
Avantium will be one of the technology providers for the fully plant-based and recyclable Paper Bottle – produced by The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco, a joint venture between paper packaging material developer BillerudKorsnäs and bottle manufacturing specialist ALPLA).
Carlsberg, the world-renowned Danish brewer, is already in support of the plans, put forward by Avantium, and hopes to one day sell its pilsner in cardboard bottles lined with an inner layer of Avantium’s plant plastic.
Avantium hopes to get approval for a major investment in their world-leading bioplastics plant in the Netherlands by the end of the year. The project remains on track, despite the coronavirus lockdown. It is ready to reveal partnerships with other food and drink companies later in the summer and could appear on supermarket shelves by 2023.
Coca-Cola and Danone are also giving their backing to the project and hope to secure the future of their bottled products by tackling plastic pollution, their reliance on fossil fuels and the environmental damage they cause.
The Plastic Crisis
Around 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced from fossil fuels globally each year. This is a major contributor to the climate change crisis. Most of the plastic produced is not recycled and contributes to the masses of microplastics, that can take hundreds of years to decompose, in the world’s rivers and seas.
The plant-based plastic uses no fossil fuels and can be recycled. However, it would also degrade much faster in nature than traditional plastics do. Therefore, it holds significant sustainability credentials.
Avantium’s trials have shown that its plant-based plastics would decompose in one year using a composter, and a “few years longer” if left in normal outdoor conditions despite being resilient enough to accommodate carbonated drinks. However, they do say that, ideally, it should be recycled.
Plans to Expand
Initially, a modest 5,000 tonnes of plant-based plastic will be produced each year using sugars from corn, wheat or beets. However, Avantium expects its production to grow as demand for renewable plastic increases.
Eventually, Avantium plans to use plant sugars from sustainably sourced biowaste so that plant plastic does not affect the global food supply chain.
The Global Clean Up
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