Pepsi 'cracks code' with all plant bottle
5:30 AM Thursday Mar 17, 2011
Pepsi unveiled a new bottle yesterday made entirely of plant material that it says bests the technology of competitor Coca-Cola and reduces bottles' carbon footprint.
The bottle is made from switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and other materials. Ultimately, Pepsi plans to also use orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other leftovers from its food business.
The new bottle looks, feels and protects the drink inside exactly the same as its current bottles, said Rocco Papalia, senior vice-president of advanced research at Pepsi.
"It's indistinguishable," he said.
Pepsi says it is the world's first bottle of a common type of plastic called PET made entirely of plant materials. Coca-Cola currently produces a bottle using 30 per cent plant-based materials and recently estimated it would be several years before it has a 100 per cent plant bottle that's commercially viable.
"We've cracked the code," Papalia said.
Pepsi announced the discovery yesterday and said it plans to test the product in 2012 in a few hundred thousand bottles.
Once the company is sure it can successfully produce the bottle at that scale, it will begin converting all its products over. That could mean a switch of billions of bottles sold each year. Of Pepsi's 19 biggest brands, those that generate more than US$1 billion ($1.3 billion) in revenue, 11 are beverage brands that use PET.
Scientists said the technology is important innovation in packaging.
"This is the beginning of the end of petroleum-based plastics," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defence Council and director of its waste management project. "When you have a company of this size making a commitment to a plant-based plastic, the market is going to respond."
Coca-Cola said it welcomed advances in packaging, noting it has scaled up use of its own plant-based bottles. It also says it has demonstrated a 100 per cent plant bottle in the lab and is still ensuring it is commercially viable.
Pepsi said it had dozens of people working on the bottle for years.