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Bottle Applications

Bottle Applications Coca-Cola Biobottle Uses Biobased Ethylene Glycol By Michael Thielen Conventional Dasani bottle to be replaced in select markets by PlantBottle In the last issue bioplastics MAGZINE reported about the planned launch of Coca- Cola‘s PlantBottle. This new plastic bottle will be made partially (up to 30%) from plants. As promised this issue will present a more comprehensive view to this new development. As stated by Coca-Cola the PlantBottle is a 100% PET plastic beverage bottle. The PET resin used for these bottles is sourced from up to 30% plant-based renewable material. Currently, PlantBottle is made from a blend of petroleum-based and existing sugar cane/molasses-based materials. The long-term focus is on the development of plastic bottles made from lignocellulosic plant waste material such as wood chips, corn stover or wheat stalks. Coca-Cola‘s goal is to bring plastic bottles to market that are fully recyclable and made from 100% renewable raw materials. But for the time being, the status-quo is the PlantBottle with up to 30% plant-based renewable material. In a direct conversation with Coca-Cola bioplastics MAGAZINE questioned how the 30% can be understood. PET is made from mono ethylene glycol (MEG) and terephthalic acid (TA). Lisa Manley, Director of Sustainability Communications of The Coca-Cola Company explains that currently the mono ethylene glycol is being produced from renewable resources such as sugar cane and molasses (a by-product when producing sugar from e.g. sugar cane). Based on a molecular weight ratio of the MEG used to make the PET vs. the molecular weight of the final PET, exactly 31.25% of the PET is contributed by the MEG. Thus if all MEG used to produce the PET were made from renewable resources, the renewable content would be 31.25%. Now as all the MEG can be biobased (not necessarily must), Coca-Cola states that up to 30% of the PET will be made from plants. That is how the ‘up to 30%‘ statement is to be understood. Would the biobased content be calculated according to ASTM 6866, based on the amount of renewable carbon, the picture would look slightly different. (mono ethylen glycol + terephthalic acid PET + water) or C 2 H 6 O 2 + C 8 H 6 O 4 C 10 H 8 O 4 + 2 H 2 O (the carbon atoms printed in green being plant based or renewable C 14 and those printed in red being fossil based C 12 ) This leads to the conclusion that if all MEG would be plant based, the content of renewable carbon in the PlantBottle PET would be 20%. This is not at all meant to criticize. It is just to clarify the facts. Coca-Cola‘s approach is absolutely positive as the replacement of as much fossil based carbon in plastics applications as possible is a very important goal. Thus the PlantBottles help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions compared with petroleum-based PET and to reduce dependency on oil which is a finite and non-renewable resource. And to come back to the goal of a 100% biobased bottle, Coca-Cola is of course carefully watching the development in the field of creating a biobased terephthalic acid as Lisa Manley points out. 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/09] Vol. 4

The product is partly biobased but is not biodegradable. However, since it is a PET like any other it is fully recyclable. PlantBottle is the first plastic bottle (partly) from renewable sources that can be recycled along with other PET bottles in the existing PET recycling infrastructure. And - again, as it is a PET bottle as any other, PlantBottle has exactly the same performance as the current PET bottle; no differences between shelf life, weight, chemical composition or appearance of the PlantBottle versus existing (petroleum based) PET plastic bottles. Lisa Manley emphasizes that PlantBottle does not compete with food products or scarce land for food. She explains that they are very excited about this innovation and that Coca-Cola do all they can to ensure the sources are sustainable ones. And even if Coca-Cola won‘t disclose the exact suppliers for competitive reasons she points out that Coca-Cola did an LCA study to make sure that different potential supply points were directionally the right way to go from an environmental point of view. For example Coca-Cola looked for suppliers that grow their agricultural products in areas of the world where the irrigation of the crops is largely rain fed. Another fact that Coca-Cola took into consideration was that the suppliers set up their operation with the intent to grow sugar cane and produce molasses for non-food use. The plans for the market introduction comprise pilot launches of Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets in 2009 and vitaminwater in 2010. PlantBottle beverage containers will be identified through on-package messages and in-store point of sale displays. Being asked why the PlantBottles are not (yet?) planned to be used for the big brands like Coca-Cola Lisa comments that of course there still is a cost issue. But over the long-term, the cost of plant-based material is expected to be more stable than the cost of equivalent material made from petroleum. As the demands increases it is expected that the supply increases and the prices fall. So we will all be curious how this development will evolve. Material Think Earth Friendly Think EarthFirst. EarthFirst ® brand films are the premier biopolymer films available to the flexible packaging and shrink sleeve label market. Compostability, low shrink initiation temperature and great machining characteristics make it the perfect environmental alternative for your brands’ packaging. The future of environmentally friendly packaging films has arrived. Call your local Sidaplax agent for more information. Think earth friendly, think EarthFirst ® US: 1-866-ERTH-1ST World: +32 9 2108010 UK: +44 160 476 6699 EarthFirst ® is a registered trademark of Plastic Suppliers, Inc. EarthFirst ® is made with Ingeo Ingeo is a trademark of NatureWorks, LLC. EarthFirst ® is a viable film for many different packaging applications. Call for more information, or visit us online at bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/09] Vol. 4 15

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