Carbios says it has a solution for recycling opaque PET milk bottles

Company says its enzymatic recycling process recycles this material into its original monomers.

January 23, 2017
RTGE Staff

Clermont-Ferrand, France-based Carbios, which specializes in enzymatic bioprocesses that it applies to plastic and textile polymers, says its recycling process for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is suitable for opaque milk cartons.  

These opaque PET containers are 25% lighter than traditional high-density polyethylene (HDPE) packaging and eliminate the aluminium seal on bottle. However, these new bottles, which are white outside and grey inside, are not recyclable by conventional processes. On a practical level, recyclers have to reject opaque PET bottles to landfill or incineration as their systems are unable to tolerate this new stream, the company says.

Carbios says its proprietary technology, which depolymerizes PET into its original monomers: TPA (terephthalic acid) and MEG (mono ethylene glycol), offers a technological solution to recycle PET products, including these new PET milk bottles.

The company says the global PET market is recording annual growth of from 4% to 5%, which represents 64 million tons of production divided between fibre at 43 million tons, bottles at 15 million tons, films and packaging at 6 million tons. Three bottles out of 100 currently are made of opaque PET, and this new plastic material will represent 100 percent of milk bottles within the next five to 10 years, according to market players.

"We are proud to provide a technological solution for the treatment of opaque PET plastics and thereby support the innovation choices of industrials,” says Jean-Claude Lumaret, CEO of Carbios. “The results of our work in PET biorecycling address a major environmental issue by exceeding the limits of current processes. Our innovative approach enables to meet these challenges and confirms the potential of our technology, now in its pilot stage and for which we hope to lead the industrialization in the coming years.”