The soft drinks giant has agreed to extend a loan with Ioniqa Technologies, enabling the Dutch firm to further develop proprietary technology that will produce high-grade recycled PET (rPET) content from hard to recycle PET waste.
Coca-Cola hoped the agreement would accelerate the development and deployment of high-grade recycled materials for use in its own PET bottles. It said the investment supported its global vision towards a ‘world without waste’.
The new technology enabled items such as coloured PET bottles, which may have been excluded from certain recycling streams, to be recycled into food-grade quality packaging.
Coca-Cola has also entered into a supply agreement to purchase 100% rPET bottles from Canadian firm Loop Industries. Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) is the first bottler to enter into a multi-year supply agreement with Loop for use in its packaging across western Europe by 2020.
Increased use of recycled content
The framework agreement with Loop would allow Coca-Cola to accelerate the increased use of recycled content in its plastic bottles, the company said.
“These two agreements represent exciting opportunities for a real step-change in our move towards a circular economy by bringing low-quality PET waste back to virgin-quality, food-grade PET,” said Robert Long, chief innovation officer at The Coca-Cola Company.
“We are committed to ongoing investment in developing the right partnerships and initiatives to support our goal of a ‘world without waste’.”
Mechanical recycling is the process of collecting and sorting used plastic bottles, separating clear PET from coloured material, and then cutting the clear material into small pieces so it can be effectively cleaned and washed. These pieces can then be melted down and blown into new bottles again.
Ioniqa has claimed to have developed a proprietary recycling technology that is able to convert hard to recycle PET-containing waste, like coloured bottles, to purified polymer building blocks that can be later re-formed into high quality PET.
Dedicated industrial plant
The technology has been validated at the demonstration scale with partners in the supply chain, Ioniqa said. An industrial plant dedicated to the technology in the Netherlands is due to in 2019, it added.
“Partnering with The Coca-Cola Company is a further validation of our journey to launch this unique process for transforming hard to recycle PET-waste to high quality food-grade material” said Tonnis Hooghoudt, chief executive of Ioniqa.
“The Ioniqa process allows for significant recovery and reuse of plastic materials that might otherwise not be recycled while delivering quality food grade PET,” he explained.
“The launch of our plant next year will be a step change in the transformation of hard to recycle PET plastic into a more widely usable recycled material and supporting Coca-Cola's vision.”
Up-cycling processes for other types of plastic are being researched and expected to be launched in the near future, Ioniqa said.
In July last year, CCEP revealed it was to double the amount of recycled plastic in its bottles by 2020, as part of a new packaging strategy.