Reducing plastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our times.
Every year, nearly 300 million tonnes of single-use plastic bottles are produced globally. Unfortunately, most of them end up in landfills and the oceans all around our planet. Plastic is even found in the snow on the top of the highest mountains and in our drinking water. The plastics that we use are derived from fossil fuels, and they take hundreds of years to decompose.
The cost of recycling is so high that it is cheaper to make new ones - and that’s what big companies do.
Dutch renewable chemicals company brings a sustainable solution to plastic pollution. Avantium specialises in developing technologies to produce chemicals and materials that are not reliant on oil but instead are based on plant “sugars”.
Carbohydrates (sugars) contain the same carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms found in the oil, just arranged differently. Avantium says it has found a way to start with plant-based sugars and transform them into a plastic that can be used to contain carbonated beverages like beer or coke. This kind of plastic could decompose in a year in a composter or during three years if was left exposed outdoors.
Avantium is collaborating with giants such as Coca Cola, Carlsberg and Danone to develop the packaging. Other companies are also interested in this innovative technology.
Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium, told The Guardian: “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.”
The new “bottle” would be completely different from what the beverages producers use today. The drinks would come inside a cardboard container with a liner made of plant-based plastic, just like milk and juice. The sugar will be sourced from corn, wheat, or beets. All plants can be a source of sugar that scientists can use to create plastic alternatives, even organic waste can be used for that in the future.
The company says their plant-based packaging could appear in stores as soon as 2023.