The Coca-Cola Company Invests in Enhanced Recycling Technologies

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(Photo: Ioniqa Technologies transforms all types and colors of PET waste into sources for virgin-quality recycled PET. Credit: Arie Kievit)

Coca-Cola says that the company has made two investments aimed at speeding up the development and deployment of enhanced recycling technologies to convert recycled plastic into food-grade PET for use in their beverage bottles.

The beverage corporation is extending a loan to Ioniqa Technologies, which is building its first PET plastic upcycling factory in the Netherlands. They also established an agreement with Loop Industries for authorized bottlers to purchase 100% recycled Loop PET. Financial details about both deals were not made public.

“Our aspiration — as part of our World Without Waste vision — is to close the loop on our packaging by helping turn more old bottles into new ones,” said Scott Pearson, senior director of Global R&D Engineering for the Coca-Cola Company.

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola launched World Without Waste, an ambitious plan to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can the company sells globally by 2030. Over the summer, Coca-Cola installed reverse vending machines at four attraction sites in Great Britain and at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

The latest investments are for enhanced recycling. Coca-Cola explained that, unlike mechanical recycling, enhanced recycling allows recovery and reuse of PET plastic without material degradation. Depolymerization converts PET into its original building blocks, which are easier to purify. These blocks can then be repolymerized into plastic resin to create high-quality PET material, the company points out.

“Enhanced recycling is one technology needed to drive a circular economy,” Pearson said. “It’s a big next step… but it’s not the only step. We still want to minimize use of virgin plastics and continue to lightweight our packaging and use as little material as possible.”

We are currently accepting submissions for the 2019 Environmental Leader Awards. Learn more and submit a project or product here.

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