Coca-Cola to announce PlantBottle partners

So I got home tonight from school (after an interesting exam) and guess what I found on my email? An invitation for Coca-Cola’s announcement on Thursday about a partnership announcement regarding their next-generation PlantBottle packaging.

Of course I am super excited and hoping to get a slot for an interview with somebody from the press conference. There were no details about it but these words on the invitation stand out to me: Next-Generation and partner companies.

So the blog is assuming here that they will talk about not only possible multiple suppliers on the PlantBottle bio-PET supply chain [remember polyethylene terephthalate plastic is made of 30% monoethylene glycol (MEG) and 70% terephthalic acid (TPA) by weight] but Coca-Cola will probably announce which renewable chemical companies will bag the possibility of supplying the TPA component since the current renewable-based component of PlantBottle packaging comes only from sugar-based MEG.

For a background on Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle packaging strategy, here’s a recent article I wrote on ICIS Chemical Business focusing on my interview with Scott Vitters, general manager for the PlantBottle Packaging platform.

Now in my interview with Mr. Vitters, he mentioned that there was only one biobased-MEG producer at this time (sources indicated it is India Glycols) and that one of the more important strategy for the company is to improve this supply chain given that Coca-Cola’s goal by 2020 is to have 100% of their PET bottles made with at least 30% PlantBottle packaging.

Take note, their goal by 2020 is not to have all of their PET bottles made with 100% bio-content so the company is still prudent with regards to the bio-TPA supply part, which made sense given that commercialization talks for bio-TPA supply chain such as bio-paraxylene will probably not be realized until 2016. But who knows, maybe this goal will change as bio-TPA commercialization developments are definitely on high gear.

On the bio-TPA part, bioplastic expert Jim Lunt mentioned the possibilities of companies involved in its development such as Gevo, Anellotech, Draths (now owned by Amyris), Genomatica, Honeywell’s UOP, Global Bioenergies, Sabic, Virent and Chemtex.

As blog followers have probably read before, Gevo is currently working with Toray on 100% renewable-based PET and recently announced successful lab-scale production of the chemical. The bio-TPA chain starts with Gevo’s sugar-based isobutanol being converted into paraxylene (PX), which is the building block for terepthalic acid. Other bio-isobutanol players on the blog’s radar include France-based Global Bioenergies, UK-based Butalco and DuPont’s bio-isobutanol business Butamax.

With regards to producing direct bio-based PX, companies that the blog has encountered so far included Virent and Anellotech, while Genomatica and Draths’ technologies have been known to target bio-PX via muconic acid.

I’m not sure about UOP and Sabic’s current developments but the green blog does know that Chemtex – the engineering and technology business of Italian PET manufacturer Mossi & Ghisolfi Group – has its own technology in producing cellulosic-based biofuel and chemicals. I’m inclined to vote M&G as a strong candidate for a Coca-Cola partner given that its newly formed JV company with TPG called BETA RENEWABLES has the capability to produce cellulosic ethanol (next generation bio-MEG anyone?) and TPG has stakes in both Genomatica and Amyris. An icing to the cake is M&G’s strong position in the global PET market.

On the bio-MEG part, there had been talks recently about traditional chemical companies such as Brazil-based Oxiteno and Braskem as well as US-based Dow Chemical looking at the market opportunity especially as bio-PET seems to be the fastest growing bioplastic product right now, according to analysts. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about bio-PET, Toyota Tsusho’s joint venture company Greencol Taiwan is supposed to be starting its 100,000 tonne/year bio-MEG plant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, by the end of this year.

Who knows, maybe we’ll be hearing most of these companies mentioned on Thursday.

Here’s a flowchart that I posted in June (with some slight updates) on possible bio-PET supply chain players:

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