Coca-Cola Company to develop a bottle 100% made from plants

Posted on 16 Dec 2011

The Coca‑Cola Company announced multimillion pound partnerships with three biotechnology companies today as it aims to accelerate the development of its PlantBottle packaging.

Agreements with Virent, Gevo and Avantium, companies who all specialise in developing plant-based alternatives to traditional materials, were signed following a two year analysis of different technologies by Coca‑Cola Company’s R&D team and technical advisory board.

“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,” said Rick Frazier, vice president of commercial product supply at Coca‑Cola Company.

“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,” added Mr Frazier.

While Virent, Gevo and Avantium will follow their own route to make bio-based materials, all materials will be developed in line with the company and the food and drink industry’s recycling requirements.

Virent chief executive officer, Lee Edwards, said: “Virent’s long term agreements with the Coca‑Cola Company are pioneering milestones in the commercialization of our technology to produce plant-based materials”

Virent’s technology uses catalytic chemistry to convert plant-based sugars into a full range of products similar to those made from petroleum.

Gevo chief executive, Patrick Gruber, commented that the Coca‑Cola Company is in a “unique position to drive and influence change in the global packaging supply chain.”

“We are excited to support Coca‑Cola’s sustainable packaging goals with this agreement to develop and commercialise technology to produce paraxylene from bio-based isobutanol,” said Mr Gruber.

Netherlands-based Avantium were selected by the Coca-Cola Company for its use of “YXY” technology that produces bio-based peak expiratory flow (PEF) bottles.

Tom van Aken, chief executive officer at Avantium said: “YXY is a very exciting solution for today’s packaging challenges, using plant-based materials as feedstock to enable the manufacture of more sustainable packaging materials.”

PlantBottle packaging is designed to reduce the dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels and minimise the carbon impact of PET plastic.

The effort to commercialise a plastic bottle made entirely from plants builds on the company’s first generation PlantBottle package, which was the first ever recyclable PET beverage bottle made partially from plants. 

Since 2009, the company has distributed more than 10 billion PlantBottle packages in over 20 countries. According to Coca-Cola, estimates show that it has saved the equivalent of 100,000 metric tonnes of CO2 in annual emissions over the past two years.