By Ehren Goossens – Dec 15, 2011 7:18 PM GMT+0000
The Coca-Cola Co. (KO), the world’s largest soft-drink maker, is working with three biotechnology companies to commercialize plastic bottles made entirely from plants.
Virent Inc., Gevo Inc. and Avantium all received “multimillion-dollar” contracts to develop plant-based plastics, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said today in a statement.
Coca-Cola, which provides 1.7 billion servings of its beverages every day, has distributed since 2009 more than 10 billion of its PlantBottles, made with as much as 30 percent plant materials. Developing new packaging made from renewable sources will help the company further reduce its use of plastics made from fossil fuels.
“While the technology to make bio-based materials in a lab has been available for years, we believe Virent, Gevo and Avantium are companies that possess technologies that have high potential for creating them on a global commercial scale within the next few years, Rick Frazier, Coca-Cola’s vice president for commercial product supply, said in the statement.
The plant-based plastics under development will be indistinguishable from their petroleum-derived counterparts, Gevo Chief Executive Officer Patrick Gruber said in an interview today. Potential demand from Coca-Cola is so large that a single company couldn’t meet the beverage company’s needs.
‘‘This market is so darn big, you’ve got to have many suppliers,” he said.
Plant-based plastic “will be cost-competitive in the long- run,” Gruber said. “The goal is to make it commercial and competitive.”