ALPLA, Austria; Britvic plc, UK; Danone S.A., France; Unilever, London; REMONDIS Recycling GmbH & Co.KG, Germany; and BP, London, joined forces to utilize BP’s enhanced recycling technology to create a new cross-industry consortium to develop a global circular economy for plastics.

The new consortium aims to help address the problem of plastic waste by accelerating the commercialization of BP Infinia enhanced recycling technology, which is designed to turn opaque and difficult-to-recycle (known as ODR) PET plastic waste into recycled feedstocks that can be used to make new high-quality PET plastic packaging again and again, with no loss in quality.

The consortium intends to combine the capabilities and experience of its members to develop a new circular approach to dealing with PET plastic waste. Each member will contribute resources and distinctive capabilities and experience in areas such as waste management and recycling, technology development, intermediate processing and product design to develop a business model that takes into consideration the infrastructure, supply chain and demand requirements involved in creating a circular economy for polyester and PET plastic.

In October, BP announced plans to construct a $25 million pilot plant to prove the technology on a continuous basis before progressing to full-scale commercialization.

“ALPLA is delighted to join this cross-functional project with partners from the entire value chain. It completes our intense activities besides mechanical recycling and focuses on post-industrial PET waste, difficult-to-recycle PET packaging and PET thermoform trays,” says Georg Lässer, head of recycling at ALPLA. “With BP in the lead, we have a very strong and highly experienced partner that contributes with knowledge about virgin polyester production.”

“This is an exciting step toward a circular economy for the polyester industry. BP is experienced in developing and scaling up technology, and we’ll do this again with our innovative BP Infinia process. But, we know we cannot create circularity on our own. That’s why we are thrilled to be working together with industry leaders to develop and prove a practical business model that can hopefully contribute to making all types of polyester waste infinitely recyclable,” says Rita Griffin, chief operating officer, petrochemicals for BP.  

“To truly reinvent Britvic’s packaging, we must innovate with new low-impact packaging. This consortium is a cornerstone to delivering that pledge. A challenge in creating a truly circular economy for PET is the fact that, as it stands, it is not infinitely recyclable. We have to solve this to become truly circular – it is not an option. That’s why we are excited to announce our active role in the consortium, collaborating to achieve a circularity breakthrough for the benefit of all our stakeholders,” adds Trystan Farnworth, director of sustainability at Britvic.

“Packaging is essential to ensure food safety and to reduce food waste, but it presents an environmental challenge. At Danone, we commit to ensuring that our packaging will be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 and that our water and other beverages bottles will contain 50% rPET by then. We keep joining forces with partners and pooling expertise in order to develop innovative recycling solutions, create a second life for all plastics and thus accelerate the global transition toward a circular economy of packaging,” says Katharina Stenholm, senior vice president, chief cycles and procurement officer for Danone. 

“In order to implement material circularity in PET packaging, we need new technologies for packaging that can’t yet be mechanically processed,” adds Ralf Mandelatz, managing director of REMONDIS. “We want this material resource to return into the circular economy; chemical recycling complements mechanical recycling and provides further possibilities to sustainable resource management. REMONDIS intends to contribute its specialist experience in the field of sorting and PET processing to the other consortium partners leading this European project.”

 “We’ve recently committed to halve our use of virgin plastic, reducing our absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tons and accelerating the use of recycled plastic,” says Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer of Unilever. “We’ve also committed to help collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell by 2025. Joining this consortium is an investment in the future of recycling technology, which is critical to keeping plastic in the loop. By working together, we can help accelerate the industry towards a circular economy.”