Avantium has focused its efforts on the polyester polyethylene-furanoate (PEF), which is an analogue of polyethylene-terephthalate (PET). PEF could replace PET in typical applications like films, fibers and in particular bottles for the packaging of soft drinks, water, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices food and non-food products.
A renewable packaging footprint
Avantium has entered into joint development agreements with The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) ,Danone and ALPLA to further develop and commercialize PEF bottles. These three companies have a proven leadership position in the area of sustainability and the use of renewable packaging materials. By light-weighting their PET bottles, a strong reduction of the carbon footprint of their supply chains can be obtained (in the last eight years the average weight of a 16-ounce PET bottle has been reduced by 30%). Today, TCCC and Danone are industry leaders in adopting plant based materials for their beverage packaging. TCCC introduced the partially biobased bottle back in November 2009 under the brand name PlantBottle™ for its Coca-Cola and Dasani brands, replacing fossil based MEG by plant based MEG. Also applying plant based MEG, Danone introduced a partially plant based bottle for its Volvic water brand in 2010, called Greener Bottle, or Bouteille Végétale. ALPLA is a leading company in PET conversion, making PET bottle packaging for leading brand owners like Unilever, P&G and the Coca-Cola Company. ALPLA has applied biobased MEG in its PET packaging, and will now introduce PEF to customers in the food, home care/personal care and alcoholic beverages industry.
Avantium’s YXY technology (in blue) enables the next steps towards a 100% biobased bottle PEF, a next-generation polyester with the functionality and economics to replace PET in large markets.
Superior functional properties
Avantium’s research has proven that PEF bottles outperform PET bottles in many areas, particularly barrier properties (the ability of the polymer to withstand gas permeability through the bottle). PEF’s ability to seal out oxygen, for example, results in longer-lasting carbonated drinks and extended shelf life. Moreover, PEF makes certain packaging coatings redundant, like the coatings used on bottles to keep beer fresh. In terms of thermal properties, PEF is widely considered more attractive than PET due to its superior ability to withstand heat (expressed in the glass transition temperature or Tg) and process-ability at lower temperatures (expressed in the melting temperature or Tm).
Superior barrier properties:
More attractive thermal properties:
Recycling PEF bottles
Avantium has demonstrated that PEF can be recycled in very similar ways to PET recycling.
Stage I: PEF in rPET stream
In the transition period following the launch of PEF bottles, the amount of PEF in the total PET stream is relatively small. PEF bottles are likely to be recycled in the PET recycling stream (rPET). The outcome of preliminary tests (using ASTM test protocols) shows that PEF has no material effect on the mechanical and physical properties of PET, such as strength and impact. Avantium is currently working with brand owners and the recycling industry to further integrate PEF into the PET’s recycling stream.
Stage II: PEF to PEF recycling
Once PEF is produced in larger volumes it is likely it may become economically more attractive to separately recycle PEF. Avantium is currently working with brand owners and the recycling industry to establish a PEF to PEF recycling infrastructure in the future.