Coke Debuts Plastic Bottle Made 100 Percent From Plant Materials

MILWAUKEE (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/TNS) -

The first plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based materials made its debut Wednesday at the World Expo in Milan, Italy, the bottle’s developers announced.

Virent Inc. of Madison, Wis., and Coca-Cola Co. announced that the bottle, made entirely from plant-based materials rather than petroleum, was being showcased at the expo, often referred to as the world’s fair.

Coca-Cola has been making its plant-based bottles since 2009, but the plastic in those bottles was only 30 percent from plant-based materials.

Technology developed by biofuels and biochemicals company Virent enabled plant-based materials to be used on the 70 percent of the bottle previously used for petroleum.

Coca-Cola says it’s working “to develop a more responsible plant-based alternative to packaging traditionally made from fossil fuels and other nonrenewable materials.”

The PlantBottle technology converts natural sugars found in plants into the ingredients for making PET plastic bottles. The packaging looks, functions and recycles like traditional polyethylene terephthalate plastic but has a lighter carbon footprint on the planet and its scarce resources, according to the bottling company.

Virent said that paraxylene was produced at its demonstration plant in Madison. Taiwan-based Far Eastern New Century then worked with Virent and Coca-Cola to convert the paraxylene into a renewable PET resin.

Virent has been working with Coca-Cola since 2011, and an investment by the Atlanta-based beverage manufacturer last year supported Virent’s expansion of its demonstration plant’s ability to scale up production of higher quantities of renewable paraxylene.

Coca-Cola’s “support of our plans for the BioFormPX (paraxylene) material in the next generation of PlantBottle packaging is critical in attracting manufacturing investment from the PET supply chain,” said Lee Edwards, Virent chief executive, in a statement.

“Today is a pioneering milestone within our company’s packaging portfolio,” said Nancy Quan, Coca-Cola global research and development officer, in a statement.

Coca-Cola has produced 35 billion bottles that are 30 percent plant-based, and its vision is to have commercial production of the 100-percent-plant-based bottles by 2020.