Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, has taken a further step on its journey towards 100% rPET for its plastic bottles by funding CuRe Technology – a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste.
The funding from CCEP, through its innovation investment fund, CCEP Ventures, will enable CuRe Technology to accelerate its ‘polyester rejuvenation’ technology from pilot plant to commercial readiness. Once the technology is commercialised, CCEP will receive the majority of the output from a CuRe Technology-licensed, new-build plant.
Once operational, CuRe Technology is intended to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade. This will contribute to removing of a total of over 200,000t of virgin oil-based PET from CCEP’s primary packaging portfolio a year and support the transition to a circular economy for PET packaging.
CuReTechnology – created and led by a consortium of recycling experts led by the Morssinkhof Group and the Cumapol/DuFor Group, with strategic partners DSM-Niaga and NHL Stenden University of Applied Science – will initially apply its end-to-end partial depolymerisation recycling process to transform opaque and difficult to recycle (ODR) food grade PET to high quality recycled PET (rPET) that can be used again for food and drink packaging in one continuous process on the same site.
The CuRe Technology funding from CCEP Ventures builds on existing strategic investments by The Coca-Cola Company to explore and support the scaling of ‘enhanced’ full depolymerisation recycling technologies in order to make a circular economy for PET a reality.
Depolymerisation recycling technologies complement existing mechanical polymer recycling processes. They have the potential to upcycle lower grade PET that cannot currently by recycled via mechanical polymer recycling means and is instead currently downcycled, incinerated or sent to landfill. These depolymerisation technologies could play a role in significantly increasing the supply of rPET whilst also accelerating the transition to a circular economy for PET bottles by reducing the reliance on virgin oil-based PET.
CuRe Technology uses a partial depolymerisation process – shortening the polymer chains just enough to allow removal of many impurities and to rejuvenate food grade PET to high quality rPET, and may be less energy intensive than full depolymerisation offering lower associated C02 emissions. It’s like pressing a ‘reset’ button to partially break down plastic PET into its component building blocks to produce a high quality rPET. Due to the modularity of the process, the longer term ambition for this technology is to upcycle all polyester waste streams including product to product rejuvenation of carpets and textiles.