Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll probably know that our planet isn’t in good shape. In fact, experts have said that global warming is now happening at an “unprecedented” scale, with many claiming that human civilization may come to a screeching halt within just 3 decades.

With the conversation around climate change growing, both activists and scientists have been very vocal about ways in which we can reduce global warming. For example, reducing plastic waste. In a world that is currently making 300 million tons of plastic from fossil fuels annually, we are desperate to have alternatives. And it seems as though Coca Cola is backing this idea as talks of a new plant-based bottle are going around.

New good news here. A collection of global corporations has backed a project aimed at developing plant-based biodegradable bottles by 2023.

Coca Cola, Carlsberg and L’Oréal are among companies supporting the “Paper Bottle Project,” executed by Dutch renewable chemicals company Avantium, paper packaging developer BillerudKorsnäs, and bottle manufacturers ALPLA.

The new plastic-like material it has developed is made from corn, wheat, and beet sugars to develop more eco-friendly plastics than those made with fossil fuels. This material made from plant sugars would completely decompose within a year in a composter.

Image credits: carlsberg

“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,” Avantium’s chief executive, Tom Van Aken.

Image credits: avantium_

He explained that the project remains on course despite global lockdowns, and The Paper Bottle Project plans to reveal more partnerships later in the summer. According to him the 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.

Avantium Managing Director Marcel Lubben explained last year:

“Participating in the Paper Bottle Project and collaborating with like-minded companies within the Paboco Pioneer Community – from bottle manufacturers to consumer brands – on developing new sustainable packaging material is a great opportunity for Avantium.”

“It is a milestone in the development of high-value applications such as specialty bottles. The Paper Bottle shows how we, together with partners, can use innovation to help shape packaging for a circular and sustainable future.”

According to Tom van Aken, the plant-based plastic is produced by breaking down sustainable plant sugars into chemical structures and then rearranging them.

“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,” he said.

The companies hope to produce the new plastic by 2023.

In a press release, Carlsberg explained: “We are working on developing the world’s first ‘paper’ beer bottle made from sustainably-sourced wood fibers that is both 100% bio-based and fully recyclable.”

“We now have two new research prototypes of the Green Fiber beer Bottle, which are the first ‘paper bottles’ that are able to contain beer.”

Every year, eight million tons of plastic waste makes its way into our oceans, having a devastating impact on the marine environment and animals that live there. Indeed, if things keep going at this rate, experts reckon there could be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. So any investment in degradable plant-based plastics can only be a good thing. Hopeful future ahead.


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