A handful of major brands have come together to help bring a new technology to market that the companies say will help increase the availability of high-quality recycled plastics. Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe have joined a consortium formed by Carbios and L’Oréal to use Carbios’s enzymatic technology for the recycling of plastics.
This biological technology fundamentally changes the way PET plastic is recycled. The technology uses highly specific enzymes that can recycle much broader PET plastics and polyester fibers feedstock than other recycling technologies, creating recycled PET, equivalent to virgin PET, that can be used for applications like bottles and other forms of packaging, Carbios says.
Members of the consortium believe their use of the technology will make a “circular plastic economy” an industrial reality.
The Carbios process breaks down PET plastic waste into its original building blocks, which can be used to produce high-quality PET plastic. The patented technology offers the potential to recycle PET plastics repeatedly and pave the way for 100% recycled PET content in new products, according to Carbios. The biological approach can handle all forms of PET plastics (clear, colored, opaque and multilayer) and polyester fibers. The process requires limited heat and no pressure or solvents, which improves its environmental impact.
L’Oréal says Carbios’s technology will help the company reach its 2025 goals: 50% of its products’ plastic components will be recycled or bio- sourced.
Achieving a “world where plastics need never become waste” will require collaborative efforts to drive transformative change across the packaging lifecycle,” says Simon Lowden, president of Global Foods at PepsiCo. By accelerating the development of the “promising enzymatic recycling technology” via participation in the consortium, Lowden believes the company is moving industry closer to a circular economy for plastics.