A small-scale PET recycling project — but one with some large-scale names behind it — is creating sample bottles partially made from marine debris.
The effort created about 300 bottles for Coca-Cola Co. through a process developed by Ioniqa Technologies BV of Eindhoven, Netherlands. The bottles were made with 25% plastic recovered from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches.
Coca-Cola and its project partners, which include PET maker Indorama Ventures and marine debris cleanup group Mares Circulares, were out to prove that the degraded marine plastics can be transformed into food and drink packaging.
"The impact of enhanced recycling will be felt on a global scale. By working with Coca-Cola and Indorama to produce this bottle, we aim to show what this technology can deliver," Ioniqa CEO Tonnis Hooghoudt said in a statement.
Ioniqa uses depolymerisation technology to make new clear PET food-safe bottles, according to the company.
Bruno van Gompel is technical and supply chain director for Coca-Cola in Western Europe.
"Enhanced recycling technologies are enormously exciting, not just for us but for industry and society at large," he said in a statement. "They accelerate the prospect of a closed-loop economy for plastic, which is why we are investing behind them.
As these begin to scale, we will see all kinds of used plastics returned, as good as new, not just once but again and again, diverting waste streams from incineration and landfill."
But environmental group Greenpeace was dubious and said a better solution would be changing the business model to use refillable and reusable containers.
"Using marine plastics in a few bottles won't prevent Coke's products from polluting beaches around the world. It is a feel-good narrative meant to take some pressure off around the company's plastics problem," Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar said in a statement.
Yash Lohia, as chief recycling officer at Indorama, sees great potential in the approach, however.
"PET of any quality can now be recycled and upcycled, at the same time resulting in a lower carbon footprint for packaging," Lohia said in a statement.