US Coca-Cola partners with Gevo, Virent, Avantium on bio-PET

15 December 2011 21:19  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--Renewable chemical technology firms Gevo, Virent and Avantium will help US beverage firm Coca-Cola develop a 100% plant-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin for its PlantBottle packaging, a Coca-Cola official said in a press conference on Thursday.

Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle packaging currently contains 30% sugar-based monoethylene glycol (MEG), while the 70% purified terephthalic acid (PTA) component is still made from petroleum-based paraxylene (PX).

The company has produced more than 10bn PlantBottle packaging items since its introduction at the end of 2009, said Rick Frazier, vice president of Coca-Cola’s commercial product supply.

Coca-Cola said the three companies will develop a renewable-based material for the PTA component of PlantBottle.

“While the technology to make bio-based materials in a lab has been available for years, we believe Virent, Gevo and Avantium possess technologies that have high potential for creating them on a global commercial scale within the next few years,” said Frazier.

Frazier did not disclose a timeframe for when they will commercialise 100% plant-based PlantBottle packaging. Coca-Cola previously indicated plans to have a commercially available 100% plant-based PET bottle by 2016.

“It will be up to our three partners to have a timeframe in order to commercialise a 100% renewable-based PlantBottle,” said Frazier.

He added: “Our partners will work independently on their own technologies but all materials will be developed in line with Coca-Cola guidelines and industry recycling requirements.”

US-based Gevo is currently working on bio-isobutanol-based PX and plans to begin pilot production in 2012 at a Silsbee, Texas, facility owned by specialty chemical firm South Hampton Resources. Gevo is targeting commercial production of its bio-PX by 2014.

Gevo has been working with Japanese chemical firm Toray on bio-PX production. Toray will not be involved in the Coca-Cola PlantBottle development, a company official said on the sidelines of the press conference.

US-based Virent is developing sugar-based PX and targets early 2015 for the startup of its first full-scale commercial plant. Capacity and location of the plant will depend on their partners’ requirements on how much bio-PX quantities are needed and the feedstock of choice, a company official said.

Most of the PX produced from Virent’s first plant will be allocated for purchase by Coca-Cola’s supply chain partners for the company’s PlantBottle, Virent said in a statement. Virent will reserve the remainder of their bio-PX, trademarked BioFormPX, for market development in complementary PET and polyester applications.

Virent is currently running a 10,000 gal/year (38,000 litre/year) demonstration plant in Madison, Wisconsin, which uses various feedstock such as sugarcane, corn and woody biomass.

The Netherlands–based Avantium is working on a carbohydrate-based polymer called polyethylene furanoate (PEF), which the company said can be an alternative to PET. PEF can be derived from any biomass feedstock such as sugarcane, agricultural residues, plants and grains, said Avantium CEO Tom van Aken.

"We are working with Coca-Cola to make sure our polymer will comply with existing PET manufacture and recycling infrastructure,” said Van Aken.

Avantium started up its PEF pilot plant on 8 December at the Chemelot site in Geleen, The Netherlands. The company plans to initiate commercial production of PEF within three to four years.

By: Doris de Guzman
+1 713 525 2653

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