Not content to let Coca-Cola Co. steal the spotlight for a more environmentally sound soda bottle, PepsiCo Inc. on March 15 unveiled what it claims is the world's first 100 percent plant-based, renewably sourced PET bottle, this one made from switch grass, pine bark and corn husks.
PepsiCo's "green" bottle is 100 percent recyclable and “far surpasses existing industry technologies,” the company said. However, it won’t be available till at least 2012.
Combining biological and chemical processes, PepsiCo scientists identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical to petroleum-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate), resulting in a bottle that “looks, feels and protects its product identically to existing PET beverage containers.”
"This breakthrough innovation is a transformational development for PepsiCo and the beverage industry and a direct result of our commitment to research and development," said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. "PepsiCo is in a unique position, as one of the world's largest food and beverage businesses, to ultimately source agricultural byproducts from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally preferable bottle for our beverages business – a sustainable business model.”
In addition to the first generation of biomaterials mentioned above, the company expects eventually to use “orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its foods business” to make the bottle.
PepsiCo will pilot production of the new bottle in 2012. Upon successful completion of the pilot, the company intends to move directly to full-scale commercialization.
"By reducing reliance on petroleum-based materials and using its own agricultural scraps as feedstock for new bottles, this advancement should deliver a double win for the environment and PepsiCo," said Conrad Mackerron, senior program director of As You Sow, a San Francisco-based foundation that promotes corporate social responsibility through shareholder engagement – and which PepsiCo quoted in its own announcement.
Coca-Cola unveiled its PlantBottle in 2009, which contains “up to 30 percent” plant-based materials. It’s been in limited use.