Plastic alternatives are being developed at a vital time when landfills are overflowing with disposable PPE.
In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, especially in a time in which disposable personal protection equipment (PPE) in the medical field is bogging down landfills, companies are working on developing new ways to help. Large manufacturers of bottled beverages are endorsing a new startup of “plant plastics.” The biochemical firm, Avantium, for one, has a plant-based plastic in the works and is partnering with companies like Coca-Cola and Dannon, which alone generates 24.6 billion in food products every year worldwide.
Carlsberg has already shown its support for Avantium’s design and trials have proven it is durable even to withstand carbonated drinks. The multinational brewing company recently revealed its working to replace plastic multipack rings with recyclable glue. It said the decision will reduce the amount of plastic used in traditional packs by as much as 76%. Four- to eight-packs are held together with strong droplets of glue made to withstand a range of temperatures including storage, transportation, and refrigeration. The cans snap when pulled apart, and the glue can be recycled.
“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,” Tom Van Aken, CEO of Avantium, said.
Dr Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer with the Marine Conservation Society, added, “This is an interesting development and will help cut down the amount of plastic on our beaches and in our seas. These kinds of can yokes are regularly found in small numbers on our beach cleans…During last year’s Great British Beach Clean we found around 100 over one weekend. They are a hazard to wildlife which can get entangled in them. Any steps taken to stop the flow of plastics to our oceans are to be welcomed.”
In 2009, the Coca-Cola Company unveiled a new plastic bottle made partially from plants. Its PlantBottle is completely recyclable and helped to reduce carbon emissions. “The PlantBottle is a significant development in sustainable packaging innovation,” explained Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, at the time of the roll out. “It builds on our legacy of environmental ingenuity and sets the course for us to realize our vision to eventually introduce bottles made with materials that are 100-percent recyclable and renewable.”
Scott Vitters, director of Sustainable Packaging of The Coca-Cola Company, said, “The PlantBottle represents the next step in evolving our system toward the bottle of the future. This innovation is a real win because it moves us closer to our vision of zero waste with a material that lessens our carbon footprint and is also recyclable.”
Coca-Cola North America also partnered with other well-known beverage distributors at the time, including Dasani and VitaminWater, and since then, the multinational companies have all been working on furthering research into even more sustainable products. Backing Avantium is one more step in the right direction for Coca-Cola and the others.