Avantium is supplying its plant-based PEF material to Refresco for use in Albert Heijn’s fruit juice bottles, with the retailer claiming to be the first supermarket chain in the world to adopt the material for own-brand products.

PEF is described as a plant-based and fully recyclable polymer with a range of packaging applications. According to Avantium, it offers ‘superior’ barrier properties to extend the shelf life of food and beverages.

Avantium’s commercial plant for PEF is currently under construction in Delfzijl and expects to produce five kilotons of FDCA, the key building block for PEF. Commercial production is scheduled to start in the latter half of 2024, at which point it will supply PEF to Refresco to produce Albert Heijn’s own-brand fruit juice bottles.

Once the plant is operational, Avantium plans to scale up production with technology licensing and plants of 100 kilotons in capacity.

“We are proud that Albert Heijn is the first supermarket chain to start using PEF for packaging,” says Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium. “With Albert Heijn as a partner, Avantium can further scale up and expand the PEF value chain to meet the growing global demand for circular and renewable material solutions.

“This is what the materials transition is about: ensuring that consumers can access sustainable and innovative products on a commercial scale.”

Marit van Egmond, CEO of Albert Heijn, continues: “From the mission ‘Together we make eating better the easy choice. For everyone.’, Albert Heijn wants to pass on a liveable earth to future generations. To make that possible, one of our goals is to make packaging more sustainable.

“Besides packaging reduction, recyclability and reuse, fossil-free materials are high on our wish list. With the use of PEF, we are giving substance to this.”

“As a beverage solutions provider, we are continuously looking for innovative ways to produce soft drinks, fruit juices and other drinks,” adds Alexander van Assouw, managing director at Refresco Benelux. “Reducing, recycling and making packaging more sustainable is an important element of our strategy.

“With PEF we are able to offer an alternative sustainable packaging solution to our customers. We are therefore pleased that Refresco, Avantium and Albert Heijn are now working together to bring this new fruit juice bottle to market.”

The news follows Avantium’s agreement with LVMH Group to secure a fixed volume of PEF for cosmetics packaging across its range of brands.

Earlier this year, Avantium and Origin Materials announced that they would combine their technology platforms to convert wood residues into FDCA – a key building block in the production of PEF – on an industrial scale. In turn, Origin Materials has worked with Husky Technologies to produce preforms and bottles from PET containing FCDA.

Meanwhile, Albert Heijn has taken further steps to optimize its sustainability practice, from rolling out paper bread clips to pledging its commitment to implementing reusable bags for its fruit and vegetables.

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