Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has announced plans to invest in the start-up recycling firm CuRe Technology, which seeks to recycle difficult plastics and polyester waste.
The move marks an important step in CCEP’s journey towards switching to 100% rPET for its plastic bottles.
The funding is supported by the company’s innovation investment fund, CCEP Ventures.
The investment will be used to build on existing strategic investments by the cola giant to explore and support the scaling of ‘enhanced’ full depolymerisation recycling technologies to make circular economy for PET a reality, CCEP added.
Joe Franses, vice president, Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners said, “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 volume that will help to accelerate delivery of our 100% rPET ambition for our PET bottles.”
The funding will allow CuRe Technology to move its ‘polyester rejuvenation’ technology from the pilot stage to commercial readiness.
After commercialising the technology, CCEP will receive the majority of the output from a CuRe-licensed plant, the Coca-Cola bottler said.
Once operational, CuRe will have the potential to support CCEP’s ambition to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade.
This will result in removing more than 200,000 tonnes of virgin oil-based PET from CCEP’s packaging portfolio annually and support the transition to a circular economy for PET packaging.
Chief Commercial Officer at CuRe Technology, Josse Kunst, said, “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 the 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.”
CuRe Technology uses a partial depolymerisation process, which converts food-grade PET to high-quality rPET.
The process can be less energy-intensive compared to full depolymerisation offering lower associated C02 emissions.
Depolymerisation recycling technologies also have the potential to upcycle lower grade PET that is currently not recyclable via mechanical recycling methods.
These technologies could also play a role in significantly increasing the supply of rPET, the company added.