More Coca-Cola announcement tidbits

Here are some of  ”other” interesting information gathered from the Coca-Cola announcement last week about their plans for a 100% plant-based bottle packaging.

For those who are not familiar with PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, the resin is made from 30% MEG (monoethylene glycol) and 70% PTA  (purified terephthalic acid) by weight. Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle packaging is currently made with sugar-based MEG and petroleum-based PTA.

Coca-Cola’s VP of Commercial Product Supply Rick Frazier noted that the company had looked at over 30 technology companies in the past two years for renewable-based alternatives to PTA and settled with the three chosen ones — Gevo, Avantium and Virent.  The three companies will work independently to develop their own bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based PTA but within the “guard rails” of Coca-Cola’s sustainable packaging strategies and standards.

“We recognized we could gain speed in identifying the leading biotech companies with the biggest potential commercial solutions to develop 100% plant-based technology and accelerate these through funding versus trying to do it alone.” – Frazier

When asked about Coca-Cola’s plans for its bio-MEG supply since the company currently has only one source for its PlantBottle packaging, Frazier said: 

“Thank you, Doris, for reminding me that I have a lot more work ahead of me. But to put it in perspective, it’s part of our overall strategy. And now we’re talking about the PTA portion of the company’s offer and then let’s just talk a little bit about the bio-MEG. Today, there is only one source. We are in negotiations and developing our overall supply chain that we can have multiple sources of supplier as part of that process. So that’s as much as I can give you from an information standpoint, but stay tuned.” – Frazier

 Frazier actually noted to the green blogger on the sidelines of the conference to wait within 6 months to a year for further announcement on bio-MEG. At least we have a time frame, right? =)

Somebody asked about the time frame for the commercialization of Coke’s 100% plant-based bottle and the costs involved with the project. Coca-Cola confirmed (as it has before) that it is paying a premiun for the bio-MEG component. Frazier pointed out that the premium is worth the cost when being able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions an equivalent to taking about 18,000 cars off the road or carbon emissions of about 2m gallons of gas.

“As we improve our supply chain, we will continue to reduce that premium that we pay today and believe it will be at equivalent prices, or potentially better, as we go forth and develop our strategy on PlantBottle.” – Frazier

With regards to exact commercialization timing for a 100% plant-based bottle, Frazier noted that it will be up to the three companies as they go down the path for their own commercialization.

“We can probably do it a lot sooner than 2020, maybe 2015..” – Frazier

The blog posed a question to Avantium regarding how their novel resin PEF (polyethylene furanoate) can fit into the existing PET bottle infrastructure compared to drop in solutions such as what Gevo (bioisobutanol-based paraxylene converted to PTA) and Virent (bio-PX converted to PTA) are offering. Avantium is promoting PEF as an alternative to PET bottle by combining bio-MEG with Avantium’s platform chemical 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) marketed under the brand name YXY (pronounced ~ ixy).

According to Avantium CEO Tom van Aken, most of their PEF plastic process (such as oxidation, polymerization step and bulk of blow molding) can be done in existing PET insulations.

“We really want to make sure that we have a very good usage of existing production facilities and supply chains. When it comes to recycling, we want to make sure that PEF can be fully recycled and that is also going to be part of the partnership with The Coca-Cola Company to demonstrate the recycling of PEF once it’s commercialized.” – Van Aken

As a closing remark for this post, here is an article from the New York Times about PepsiCo’s response to the Coca-Cola announcement. According to PepsiCo’s Denise Lefebvre, VP for global beverage packaging, PepsiCo is on schedule to conduct a test run next year that will involved producing 200,000 bottles made from 100% plant-based materials.

PepsiCo is said to be also following the same path as Coca-Cola teaming up with companies that are developing alternative PTA component for a 100% bio-based PET bottle.  PepsiCo declined to identify the partners.

The article also noted that Coca-Cola expects two additional bio-MEG production facilities to begin production next year. The blog definitely needs to find out who those are…

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