Coca-Cola & Carlsberg are making the switch to plant-based bottles

Plastic bottles transformed the beverage industry, but now they’re transforming our oceans. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists estimate that eight million metric tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans every year. And by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. But thanks to a biochemicals company in the Netherlands, plant-based bottles could soon be replacing petroleum-based plastic ones.

Dutch renewable chemicals company Avantium, packaging developer BillerudKorsnäs, and bottle manufacturer ALPLA are working together on The Paper Bottle Project (Paboco). Their goal is to develop a plastic bottle made from plant sugars rather than fossil fuels.

Beverage companies Coca-Cola and Carlsberg are among several others that are backing a project which aims to develop plant-based plastic bottles that degrade within a year. They’re looking to help raise investment in the project. Coca-Cola’s first-generation PlantBottle™ introduced in 2009 was made of 30% plant-based PET and 70% purified terephthalic acid (PTA); these new plant-based bottles aim to be 100% plant-based.

Carlsberg bottle concept

Carlsberg, who’s been a long-time partner of Paboco, explained in a press release: “We are working on developing the world’s first ‘paper’ beer bottle made from sustainably-sourced wood fibres that is both 100% bio-based and fully recyclable.” Shortly after, the brewing company unveiled its first plant-based bottle for its Pilsner beer. As proof of concept, they released images of it on their social media sites. Avantium’s chief executive, Tom van Aken, explained that the project remains on course despite global lockdowns. Paboco plans to reveal more partnerships later in the summer.

Plant-based bottles could help mitigate the severe plastic pollution problem

These plant-based bottles will have an outer-cardboard layer, which will be reinforced with an inner layer of plant-based plastic. This plastic will be strong enough to hold drinks and ensure that the contents stay cool. When the two materials are separated, the entire bottle can be recycled. Alternatively, the whole thing can degrade within a year. The sustainability company which creates these bottles hopes to have them ready for consumer use by 2023.

Plant-based bottles have paper shell and plastic centre

Paboco Technical Director Christina Carlsen says, “Being part of this journey from the beginning, inventing the technology and building the first machine for the paper bottle with my bare hands is my chance to make a difference. A difference towards a sustainable world for future generations. What we are doing is not just a new bottle, we are making a difference.”

This push towards eliminating single-use plastics comes off of last year’s momentum to begin reducing plastic straw use. Hopefully, the global community is taking responsibility for the growing environmental waste problem and is using innovation and human ingenuity to help ensure we have a clean, healthy planet for many years to come.