Of the vast amount of plastic packaging waste generated daily around the globe, PET bottles reportedly achieve one of the highest recycling rates in the industry. Once collected, the bottles must be separated from their caps - usually made from PP or PE - prior to being further processed. While not all bottles are collected with their caps today, that is due to change as the various tethered caps regulations start going into effect next year.
Origin Materials, a California based manufacturer of carbon-negative materials, saw an opportunity.The company has created ‘all-PET’ bottle caps, making 100% recycled PET possible from cap to bottle to improve post-consumer recycling.
“We identified a global sustainability challenge and an opportunity to solve it,” said John Bissell, co-Founder and co-CEO of Origin Materials. “An all-PET bottle and cap and closure system is an obvious, necessary next step in beverage packaging and recycling. With our process, we can make caps from 100% recycled PET or 100% bio-based PET, unlocking important sustainability and potentially performance benefits for our customers.”
The new patent-pending caps can be produced from any type of PET, from recycled PET to the 100% bio-based, carbon-negative virgin PET produced based on Origin’s technology at competitive cost.
In terms of material properties, PET also offers benefits over the use of conventional polyolefin materials, providing a better oxygen and CO2 barrier than either HDPE and PP.
The market for the new cap is potentially huge: according to, among others, Precedence Research, the global caps and closures market size was estimated at US$ 65.41 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach over US$ 92.5 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.4% from 2021 to 2030.
The looming cap tethering mandates are likely to further increase the demand for Origin’s innovative caps and closures. Tethering mandates require that caps remain firmly attached to bottles after opening and during the product's life cycle, with the aim of reducing plastic litter on beaches and in the ocean.
Origin Materials has developed a technology platform that uses non-food, plant-based feedstocks. The main focus is on sustainably harvested wood, but agricultural waste, wood waste, and even old cardboard may be used. The platform catalytically converts C-6 cellulose into four isolated building-block chemicals in a process that sequesters carbon, the company says. One of these chemicals is CMF (chloromethyl furfural), which can be converted into bio-based paraxylene, one of the components needed to produce 100% bio-PET.