IHS Chemical Week


Bioplastics: Anything You Can Do...

7:18 AM MDT | May 21, 2009 | By LOU READE

The age-old rivalry between Coke and Pepsi has taken a new turn, with both companies claiming leadership in bioplastics packaging.


Pepsi – which, like its rival, produces more than just a caramel-flavoured drink – has started to pack its SunChips snacks in a bioplastic. For now, the three-layer bags contain 33% biodegradable plastic – in the form of NatureWorks’ PLA polymer, derived from corn. By this time next year, the packaging will be 100% PLA.


“When the packaging is 100% compostable, it will fully decompose in about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost pile or bin,” says Pepsi.


Not to be outdone, Coca-Cola has developed its own bottle – some of which is derived from natural resources.


Like millions of other bottles that pass through Coke’s filling plants, its Plantbottle is made completely from PET. The difference is this: around 30% of the mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) – a feedstock used to make PET – was derived from sugarcane, rather than oil.


It is worth pointing out that these bottles will not biodegrade. In modern parlance, a ‘bioplastic’ is not necessarily compostable – it is simply a material that is derived from renewable resources.


The Plantbottle will make its debut in the U.S. with the company’s Dasani water, and some of its sparkling beverage brands.


But one thing is still preying on my mind: if the bottle were used for the company’s flagship product (‘full fat’ Coke), which would contain more sugar – the drink itself, or the bottle?


I’ll get back to you when I’ve done the math.



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