Carlsberg’s cardboard bottle which could replace one-way bottles made from PET or glass in the future is one step closer to reality. Avantium Renewable Polymers, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dutch biochemical company Avantium which is working on renewable and sustainable solutions, is planning to build at Chemie Park Delfzijl, the Netherlands a 5,000-ton production plant for plant-based FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) – a key building block for many chemicals and plastics such as PEF (polyethylene furanoate).
The “all-plant” bioplastic is made from plant sugars extracted from sustainably grown crops, such as corn, wheat or beets, instead of fossil fuels. It is produced by breaking down sustainable plant sugars into chemical structures that can then be rearranged to form a new plant-based plastic. The plastic is designed to be strong enough to contain carbonated drinks.
The bioplastic is fully recyclable and decomposes in one year using a composter. If left under normal outdoor conditions, it would decompose in a few years. However, it should ideally 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,” said Tom Van Aken, Chief Execuitive Officer of Avantium.
Across the globe, around 300 million tons of plastic is made from fossil fuels every year and is therefore directly exacerbating the climate crisis. In addition, this plastic is contributing to the pollution of the sea with plastic waste and the scourge of microplastics that have been found everywhere from sea spray to table salt.
Avantium has already gained support from global food and drinks giants such as Coca-Cola, Danone and Carlsberg and hopes to announce even more partnerships with food and drink brands in the course of the year.
Avantium Renewable Polymers has also entered into a letter of intent with a regional consortium relating to the financing of the FDCA flagship plant and associated costs, for an amount of EUR 30 million, over the period to the plant’s completion in 2023 with no plans to slow down the project despite the coronavirus lockdown
The regional consortiums comprises of the Province of Groningen, Groningen Seaports, NOM (Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands), FondsNieuweDoen, Investeringsfonds Groningen and Groeifonds.
“We are delighted to have reached another important step in Avantium Renewable Polymers’ funding process for its FDCA flagship plant. Together with the PEFerence grant and the investments by Avantium, we are on track to attract the funding for the FDCA flagship plant, which we aim to have in place before the end of 2020. We are now focused on progressing our discussions with potential strategic partners,” Mr. Van Aken was quoted in a press release earlier this year.
Carlsberg unveiled in October two prototypes of a cardboard bottle which could replace one-way bottles made from PET or glass in the future (inside.beer, 11.10.2019).The Green Fiber Bottle was already announced at Carlsberg’s Sustainable Brands 2016 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the brewer planned to test between 10,000 and 20,000 bottles in selected pilot markets in 2019 (inside.beer, 7.9.2018). However, the prototypes from October last year were the first bottles to be publicly shown after the first announcement. Avantium’s new plant could now be the next step in realizing the dream of a plastic-free and sustainable world.
In Asia, other startups like Ecoinno are also working on technologies that use plants to solve the plastic waste crisis. The Hong Kong-based company has created a sustainable food packaging material made using plant fibers derived from sugarcane and bamboo, and has recently attracted major funding from Alibaba.