Breakthrough Technologies from Virent, Gevo and Avantium Selected to Reach Global Scale
ATLANTA, Dec. 15, 2011 - The Coca-Cola Company today announced multi-million dollar partnership agreements with three leading biotechnology companies to accelerate development of the first commercial solutions for next-generation PlantBottle™ packaging made 100% from plant-based materials.
This effort to commercialize a plastic bottle made entirely from plants builds on the Company's ground-breaking introduction and roll-out of its first generation PlantBottle™ package which was the first ever recyclable PET beverage bottle made partially from plants. Since introduced in 2009, the Company has already distributed more than 10 billion PlantBottle™ packages in 20 countries worldwide.
Agreements with Virent, Gevo and Avantium - industry leaders in developing plant-based alternatives to materials traditionally made from fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources - were signed following an in-depth two year analysis of different technologies by The Coca-Cola Company's R&D team and technical advisory board.
"While the technology to make bio-based materials in a lab has been available for years, we believe Virent, Gevo and Avantium are companies that possess technologies that have high potential for creating them on a global commercial scale within the next few years," said Rick Frazier, Vice President, Commercial Product Supply, The Coca-Cola Company. "This is a significant R&D investment in packaging innovation and is the next step toward our vision of creating all of our plastic packaging from responsibly sourced plant-based materials."
Agreements with these three companies will help The Coca-Cola Company support its long-term commitments through sustainable practices in sourcing and packaging supply. While Virent, Gevo and Avantium will follow their own route to make bio-based materials, all materials will be developed in line with Company and industry recycling requirements.
"Virent's long term agreements with The Coca-Cola Company are pioneering milestones in the commercialization of our technology to produce plant-based materials" said Virent CEO Lee Edwards. "Our patented technology features catalytic chemistry to convert plant-based sugars into a full range of products identical to those made from petroleum, including bio-based paraxylene - a key component needed to deliver 100% plant-based PET packaging." PET made from Virent's bio-based paraxylene features the same high quality and recyclability as materials used today, with the added benefit of being made from a wide range of renewable materials. The company is targeting early 2015 for the opening of its first full-scale commercial plant.
"We are extremely gratified to have won the confidence of The Coca-Cola Company and are excited to support Coca-Cola's sustainable packaging goals with this agreement to develop and commercialize technology to produce paraxylene from bio-based isobutanol," said Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. "New technologies need champions. The Coca-Cola Company is in a unique position to drive and influence change in the global packaging supply chain with this development. You cannot ask for a better champion than one of the most respected and admired consumer brands."
"Avantium is very proud to partner with The Coca-Cola Company to demonstrate that our patented "YXY" technology produces bio-based PEF bottles with exceptional functional properties at a competitive price", says Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium. "YXY is a very exciting solution for today's packaging challenges, using plant-based materials as feedstock to enable the manufacture of more sustainable packaging materials, such as PEF bottles. We have produced PEF bottles with promising barrier and thermal properties and look forward to our work with Coca-Cola to further develop and commercialize PEF bottles. Our production process fits with existing supply and manufacturing chains and we are targeting commercial production in the next few years."
The Coca-Cola Company's first generation PlantBottle™ packaging is the only fully recyclable PET bottle made with up to 30% plant-based material available today. PlantBottle™ packaging is made up of two components: MEG (mono-ethylene glycol), which makes up 30% of the PET, and is already made from plant materials, and PTA (purified terephthalic acid), which makes up the other 70%. In this next step, PTA will be replaced with plant-based materials, too.
PlantBottle™ packaging makes a difference by reducing our dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels and minimizing the carbon impact of PET plastic. It is estimated the use of PlantBottle™ packaging in the first two years alone has helped save the equivalent annual emissions of more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Coca-Cola will continue to make investments in PlantBottle™ technology and aims to use PlantBottle™ packaging for the Company's entire virgin PET supply by 2020.
As a leader in sustainable packaging, the Company also looks for opportunities to advance smart innovation across the industry. Earlier this year, The Coca-Cola Company announced an industry-first partnership with H.J. Heinz Company that allows Heinz to produce its ketchup bottles using PlantBottle™ technology. Heinz PlantBottle™ packaging launched this summer in the U.S.
Separately, Coca-Cola already produces a fully recyclable HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic that is made 100% from plant material and is available through Odwalla™ juice brand products. While HDPE is an ideal package for some refrigerated juice products, it is not suitable for shelf-stable carbonated and still beverages.
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About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, our Company's portfolio features 15 billion dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.7 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system employees. For more information, please visit http://www.coca-colacompany.com or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo.
About Virent, Incorporated
Virent is replacing crude oil by creating the chemicals and fuels the world demands using a wide range of naturally-occurring, renewable resources. Its patented technology features catalytic chemistry to convert plant-based sugars into a full range of products identical to those made from petroleum, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and chemicals for plastics and fibers. The products are "drop-in" replacements that enable full utilization of existing logistics infrastructure without blending limitations. The development of Virent's BioForming® technology platform is supported through strategic investors including Cargill, Shell and Honda, as well as 120 employees based in Madison, Wisconsin. Please learn more at www.Virent.com.
Gevo is converting existing ethanol plants into biorefineries to make renewable building block products for the chemical and fuel industries. The Company plans to convert renewable raw materials into isobutanol and renewable hydrocarbons that can be directly integrated on a "drop in" basis into existing chemical and fuel products to deliver environmental and economic benefits. Gevo is committed to a sustainable bio-based economy that meets society's needs for plentiful food and clean air and water. For more information, visit http://www.gevo.com.
Avantium is a leading technology company specialized in the area of advanced high-throughput R&D. The company develops and commercializes YXY - its brand name for the technology to produce chemical building blocks for bio-based materials with exceptional product properties at a competitive price. Combined with the significant reduction in environmental footprint, Avantium's lead application PEF, fulfills all key criteria to become the next generation bio-based plastics for bottles, film and fibers. Avantium has demonstrated the value and commercial potential of its unique technology by collaborating with leading companies in the energy and chemical industries. It has a proven track record in offering fast and efficient chemical catalytic development services and systems. Avantium offices and headquarters are based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For more information about Avantium, please contact Janine Kostermann at +31 20 586 8132 or visit the corporate website: www.avantium.com or the product website: www.yxy.com.