Eco-friendly food brands are popping up here and there, and it seems like our hope for a greener world will come to fruition soon.
If you love drinking beer and soft drinks, you may be sipping your favorite beverages from plant-based bottles years from now. Renewable chemicals company Avantium, paper packaging material developer BillerudKorsnäs, and bottle manufacturing specialist ALPLA have teamed up to work on The Paper Bottle Project, which aims to use plant sugars rather than fossil fuels in making plastics.
This plan has already gained the support of the beer maker Carlsberg, a long-time partner of The Paper Bottle Project. They said in a news release: “We are working on developing the world’s first ‘paper’ beer bottle made from sustainably-sourced wood fibers that is both 100% bio-based and fully recyclable.”
Carlsberg revealed the concept of these paper bottles through their social media sites. A plant-based polymer called PEF will be used to make these bottles. Unlike their plastic counterparts, these are fully recyclable and are expected to degrade within a year.
Avantium CEO Tom van Aken said that he hopes to greenlight a significant investment in a Netherlands-based bioplastics plant by the end of this year. The project remains on track despite the coronavirus pandemic and will announce its partnership with other eco-friendly food brands and beverage companies this summer.
In October 2019, Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, and Absolut joined the project, proving that they are entities willing to address the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution and a reliance on fossil fuels.
Globally, around 300 million tons of plastic is made from fossil fuels each year. This activity heavily contributes to the climate crisis we are facing today. Most of these plastics aren’t recycled and add to the microplastics that end up in the oceans. These elements could take hundreds of years to decompose fully. Plastic bottles, according to scientists take 450 years to decompose.
“This plastic has very attractive sustainability credentials because it uses no fossil fuels, and can be recycled – but would also degrade in nature much faster than normal plastics do,” Van Aken said.
According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists estimate that eight million metric tons of plastic makes its way into the oceans annually.
Avantium’s plant plastic is meant to be tough enough to hold carbonated drinks. According to results from trials, the plant plastic should decompose in one year with a composter. If left in normal outdoor conditions, it will take a few years longer. Ideally, however, it should be actively recycled.
This plant-based plastic could be available on supermarket shelves by 2023. The plan is to initially produce 5,000 tons of plastic every year using sugars derived from wheat, corn, or beets. As for Avantium, they expect their production to increase as the demand for renewable plastic rises.
The move towards eliminating single-use plastics started last year when there was an initiative from many countries and corporations worldwide to lessen the use of plastic straws.
Through these projects, we see that more eco-friendly food brands are doing their part in making sure that the next generation will have a livable world for the centuries to come. And this phenomenon is something that Mother Earth will surely be happy about!
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