Danone and Nestlé Waters are working to launch a commercial scale PET plastic bottle made from bio-based material, i.e. 100 percent sustainable and renewable resources. And they want to get it to store shelves by 2020.

The world’s two largest bottled water companies, have joined forces with Origin Materials, a startup based in Sacramento, Calif., to form the NaturALL Bottle Alliance.

The project uses biomass feedstocks, such as previously used cardboard and sawdust, so it does not divert resources or land from food production for human or animal consumption. The technology represents a scientific breakthrough for the sector, and the Alliance aims to make it available to the entire food and beverage industry.

After identifying the unique approach of Origin Materials separately, the Danone and Nestlé Waters decided to team up to accelerate development of this promising technology.

“Our goal is to establish a circular economy for packaging by sourcing sustainable materials and creating a second life for all plastics,” says Frederic Jouin, head of R&D for plastic materials at Danone. “We believe it’s possible to replace traditional fossil materials with bio-based packaging materials. By teaming up and bringing together our complementary expertise and resources, the Alliance can move faster in developing 100 percent renewable and recyclable PET plastic at commercial scale.”

Danone and Nestlé Waters are providing expertise and teams, as well as financial support, to help Origin Materials make this technology available to the entire food and beverage industry in record time.

This next-generation PET will be as light in weight, transparent, recyclable and protective of the product as today’s PET, while being better for the planet. The exclusive use of renewable feedstocks, which do not divert resources or land from food production, is the Alliance’s main focus area. The R&D will focus initially on cardboard, sawdust and wood chips but other biomass materials, such as rice hulls, straw and agricultural residue could be explored.

“Current technology on the market makes it possible to have 30 percent bio-PET,” says John Bissell, CEO of Origin Materials. “Our breakthrough technology aims to reach 100 percent bio-based bottles at commercial scale. With the help of our Alliance partners, Origin Materials will be able to scale up a technology which has already been proven at the pilot level.”

The NaturALL Bottle Alliance partners believe everyone should benefit from this new material, so the technology will be accessible for the entire beverage industry. This unique approach demonstrates the allies’ commitment to open innovation and sustainable business.

“It’s incredible to think that, in the near future, the industry will be able to use a renewably sourced packaging material, which does not compete with food production and contributes to a better planet,” says Klaus Hartwig, head of R&D for Nestlé Waters. “It therefore made perfect sense for us to join forces through this Alliance to develop this innovative technology in a large scale and in the shortest time period possible. This is an exciting journey and we are proud to be part of it.”

Origin Materials has already produced samples of 80 percent bio-based PET in its pilot plant in Sacramento. Construction of a “pioneer plant” will begin in 2017, with production of the first samples of 60+ percent bio-based PET to start in 2018. The initial volume goal for this first step is to bring 5,000 metric tons of bio-based PET to the market.

Thanks to their complementary skills and shared vision, the NaturALL Bottle Alliance aims to develop the process for producing at least 75 percent bio-based PET plastic bottles at commercial scale as early as in 2020, scaling up to 95 percent in 2022. The partners will continue to conduct research to increase the level of bio-based content, with the objective of reaching 100 percent.

For more information: Origin Materials, call (916) 231-9329, visit originmaterials.com, or email hello@originmaterials.com