Danone and Nestlé Waters pursue 100% bio-based plastic bottle rollout

Multi-national food company Danone has teamed up with the bottled water division of the Nestlé Group and a Californian start-up company to launch a new alliance aimed at commercialising 100% bio-based plastic bottles.

Announced today (2 March), Danone, Nestlé Waters and Origin Materials have formed that NaturALL Bottle Alliance, with the specific focus of delivering at least 95% bio-based PET plastic bottles onto the market by 2020.

“Our goal is to establish a circular economy for packaging by sourcing sustainable materials and creating a second life for all plastics,” Danone’s head of R&D Frederic Jouin said. “We believe it’s possible to replace traditional fossil materials with bio-based packaging materials. By teaming up and bringing together our complementary expertise and resources, the Alliance can move faster in developing 100% renewable and recyclable PET plastic at commercial scale.”

Both Danone and Nestlé Waters will provide financial support to Origin Materials, which has already produced 80% bio-based plastic samples at its pilot plant in California. The Alliance will construct a “pioneer plant” this year to produce the first samples of more than 60% bio-based PET plastic by 2018.

From here, the firms will aim to introduce 5,000 metric tonnes of bio-based plastic to the global market. The Alliance will then ratchet up production to produce at least 95% bio-based products by 2020 before finally hitting the 100% recyclable and renewable product.

Originally, the materials sourced for the bottles will consist of cardboard, sawdust and wood chips, but the Alliance revealed that other biomass materials, such as rice hulls, straw and agricultural residue could be incorporated. The Alliance has said that it will make the product available to the entire food and beverage industry.

“It’s incredible to think that, in the near future, the industry will be able to use a renewably sourced packaging material, which does not compete with food production and contributes to a better planet,” Nestlé Waters’ head of R&D Klaus Hartwig said.

“It therefore made perfect sense for us to join forces through this Alliance to develop this innovative technology in a large scale and in the shortest time period possible. This is an exciting journey and we are proud to be part of it.”

Plastic predicament

The ambition to source fully-renewable plastic bottles has been gaining traction for some time. Danone has previous in this area, while major firms such as Heineken and Coca-Cola have also pushed the agenda forwards.

If bio-based bottles do become commercialised, the use of traditional plastic bottles may finally subside. Plastic is currently plaguing the oceans and despite PET bottles being fully-recyclable, only 60% of the bottles are currently recycled in the UK.

One temporary solution while we wait for the rollout of bio-based bottles could be a deposit take back scheme. The concept has been successfully embedded in parts of Europe and Coca-Cola last week announced its support for a similar scheme in Scotland.

edie’s Resource Management Month

March is edie’s Resource Management Month, with a series of exclusive interviews, features and podcasts running throughout the month to drill down on the most effective ways of driving a resource revolution.

From recycling and recovery to closed-loop solutions, our Resource Management Month will explore the various ways businesses can help to deliver an economy that has moved away from ‘take, make, waste’ to a circular economy-based model based on resource efficiency, re-use and redistribution.

Read all of our resource management content here.

Matt Mace

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