Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, has taken an important step toward achieving its goal of 100% recycled PET (rPET) for its plastic bottles by funding CuRe Technology, a recycling startup that seeks to provide a new life for difficult-to-recycle polyester waste. The funding will enable CuRe to accelerate its “polyester rejuvenation” technology from pilot plant to commercial readiness. Once the technology is commercialized, CCEP will receive the majority of the output from a CuRe-licensed greenfield plant.
CuRe funding from CCEP Ventures builds on existing strategic investments by the Coca-Cola Co. to explore and support the scaling of enhanced full depolymerization recycling technologies in order to make a circular economy for PET a reality. Once operational, CuRe has the potential to support CCEP’s ambitious goal to eliminate virgin PET from its PET bottles within the next decade. This will contribute to removing a total of more than 200,000 tonnes of virgin PET from CCEP’s packaging portfolio a year and support the transition to a circular economy for PET packaging.
CuRe Technology uses a partial depolymerization process, shortening the polymer chains just enough to allow the removal of many impurities and to convert food-grade PET to high-quality rPET. This process can be less energy intensive than full depolymerization by offering lower associated CO2 emissions. It’s like pressing a ‘reset’ button to partially break down PT into its component building blocks to produce a high-quality rPET, explained the company. Due to the modularity of the process, the longer term ambition for this technology is to upcycle all polyester waste streams, including carpets and textiles.
|CuRe Technology uses a partial depolymerization process to give new life to difficult-to-recycle polyester waste. All images courtesy CuRe Technology/CCEP.|
“CuRe [has] transformational potential, making it an ideal investment for CCEP Ventures,” said Joe Franses, Vice President, Sustainability, at Coca-Cola European Partners. “Our investment in CuRe underlines our commitment to supporting innovations that have the potential to drive growth in our business and our sustainable packaging goals. It also offers us the potential to access vital rPET volumes that will help to accelerate delivery of our 100% rPET ambition for our PET bottles.”
Josse Kunst, Chief Commercial Officer at CuRe Technology, added, “Polyester is one of the world’s most reversible plastics and should not go to waste. In the pilot plant phase of the CuRe process, we were supported with a subsidy from the European Union and three northern provinces of the Netherlands. Now our ambition to create an energy-efficient solution for product-to-product polyester transformation will be accelerated because of this funding. The support of CCEP Ventures will enable us to start with opaque and difficult-to-recycle food-grade PET and take the first step toward our ultimate vision of recycling all polyester, again and again.”