COCA COLA EUROPEAN PARTNERS INVESTS IN RECYCLING TECHNOLOGY TO CLOSE LOOP ON PLASTIC PACKAGING27 July 2020
Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, has taken an important step on its journey towards 100% recycled PET (rPET) for its plastic bottles by funding CuRe Technology – a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste.
The funding from CCEP, through its innovation investment fund CCEP Ventures, will enable CuRe to accelerate its ‘polyester rejuvenation’ technology from pilot plant to commercial readiness. Once the technology is commercialised, CCEP will receive the majority of the output from a CuRe-licensed, new-build plant.
Once operational, CuRe has the potential to support CCEP’s ambition, in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company in Western Europe, to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade. This will contribute to removing a total of over 200,000* tonnes of virgin oil-based PET from CCEP’s packaging portfolio a year and support the transition to a circular economy for PET packaging.
CuRe Technology – a start-up, created by a consortium of world-leading recycling innovators and experts, and led by the Morssinkhof Group and the Cumapol/DuFor Group, with strategic partners DSM-Niaga and NHL Stenden University of Applied Science – will initially apply its end-to-end partial depolymerisation recycling process to transform opaque and difficult to recycle (ODR) food grade PET to high quality recycled PET (rPET) that can be used again for food and drink packaging in one continuous process on the same site.
Towards a Circular Economy
The CuRe funding from CCEP Ventures builds on existing strategic investments by The Coca-Cola Company to explore and support the scaling of ‘enhanced’ full depolymerisation recycling technologies in order to make a circular economy for PET a reality.
Depolymerisation recycling technologies complement existing mechanical polymer recycling processes. They have the potential to upcycle lower grade PET that cannot currently be recycled via mechanical recycling means and is instead currently downcycled, incinerated or sent to landfill. These depolymerisation technologies could play a role in significantly increasing the supply of rPET whilst also accelerating the transition to a circular economy for PET bottles by reducing our reliance on virgin oil-based PET.
The Coca-Cola system in Western Europe is working towards a future source vision for its PET material which will help remove the need for virgin oil-based PET (figurative future sources of PET in Western Europe: 70% derived from mechanical recycling with 25% from depolymerisation recycling and 5% PET from plant-based renewable sources, all while remaining 100% recyclable*).
About CuRe Technology
CuRe Technology is an emerging ‘depolymerisation recycling technology’ that seeks to provide a new lease of life to lower grade plastic PET waste.
Led by a consortium of leading polyester recycling and manufacturing experts, CuRe Technology will focus on providing an end-to-end recycling process for PET waste, rejuvenating it via a partial depolymerisation recycling process into high-quality, ready-to-use rPET which can replace virgin PET from fossil-derived sources.
Through this partial depolymerisation process, CuRe Technology seeks to rejuvenate food grade PET waste by partially breaking it down into smaller components (akin to ‘building blocks’), before removing impurities and rebuilding it into high quality, food-grade rPET which can replace virgin, oil-based PET in food packaging manufacturing.
Depolymerisation recycling technologies complement existing mechanical polymer recycling processes. They have the potential to upcycle lower grade PET which cannot currently be recycled via mechanical recycling means and is therefore downcycled, incinerated or sent to landfill.
Depolymerisation technologies could help to significantly increase the supply of rPET whilst also accelerating the transition to a circular economy for PET bottles by reducing our reliance on virgin oil-based PET.
Josse Kunst, Chief Commercial Officer at CuRe Technology said: “Polyester is one of the world’s most reversible plastics and should not go to waste. In the pilot plant phase of the CuRe process, we were supported with a subsidy from the European Union and the three northern provinces of the Netherlands. Now our ambition to create an energy-efficient solution for product-to-product polyester transformation will be accelerated because of this funding.
Kunst continued “The support of CCEP Ventures will enable us to start with opaque and difficult to recycle food grade PET and take the first step towards our ultimate vision of recycling all polyester, again and again.”