Carbios and L’Oréal have announced a major partnership with Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe. The consortium was originally founded by Carbios and L’Oréal to bring recycling technology developed by Carbios to the market on an industrial scale.

Under the terms of the four-year agreement, the Consortium partners’ ambition is to bring Carbios’ PET-enhanced recycling technology to the market and increase the availability of high-quality recycled plastics to fulfill their sustainability commitments. The collaboration includes technical milestones and support for the efficient supply of consumer-grade, 100 per cent recycled PET plastics for global markets.

The bio-chemical process developed by Carbios uses highly specific enzymes that can recycle much broader PET plastics and polyester fibre feedstock than other recycling technologies. Carbios says this process breaks down PET waste into its original building blocks, which can be used to product high-quality PET plastic, similar to virgin PET. This could be used for applications like bottles and other forms of packaging.

This patented technology offers the potential to recycle PET plastics repeatedly and pave the way for 100 per cent recycled PET content in new products. In fact, as we previously reported, Carbios recently achieved a world first using its enzymatic technology to create PET bottles from 100 per cent recycled plastics.

According to Carbios, this biological approach can handle all forms of PET plastics (clear, colored, opaque and multilayer) and polyester fibres. The process requires limited heat and no pressure or solvents, which improves its environmental impact, and also provides a competitive solution to increase global plastic recycling rates and help the transition to a circular economy.

We have discussed before the need for a greater supply of high-quality recycled feedstocks if we are to meet the current EU targets for recycled content in packaging. If the consortium achieves its aims, the technology developed by Carbios may go some way to help tackle this challenge.

“Demand for recycled material is already there,” a spokesperson for Carbios told us. “Most of the large FMCG brand owners have made pledges to commit to using more and more recycled material in their packaging. Carbios’ process, by enabling the recycling of waste which today is badly recycled or not recycled at all, will give access to additional volumes of recycled PET, at the requested quality.”

We also asked about the timeline for bringing this solution to market. “Carbios will build a demonstration plant which will start up end of 2020 to demonstrate the process. After 12-18 month of operations, enough process data will have been generated to license the process out in 2023/2024, very likely to a PET manufacturer. The first industrial plant will start up in 2024/2025.”