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A look into the Coke’s BioPET-PlantBottle™ 1.0 – Is it really Green or is it Greenwashing?

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We live in a time where big multinational companies who do what they can do their business. Buy for one, sell for two. That is capitalism and the dream of getting wealth and generating it. We live in a day and age where multinational companies have vast powers and can use it whatever way they like. They can if wanting to make as much of wealth to circus of companies and hide the earnings in a tax-haven in the Caribbean or in Lichtenstein. But this article or blog will be about that. It’s about another possibility that they can do.

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Milking a special type of cow:

Something that isn’t right. Companies can if they feel tell stories and express themselves as they please. Until a certain extent they can if they want to make them look extra good, but if so they shouldn’t play in-between reality and fiction. Especially not portraying stories about their products – they can make their milk being squeezed out a most beautiful cow ever. Even if wasn’t most purebred highland cattle from the western islands of Scotland. Instead it’s made with some lame ass country cow. If a Milk producing company said their entire product was made from Highland Cattle, we as consumer expect the product to be that, right? So if the pieces of production and process is made with fractions of other milking cow it want be pure Highland. It will be milk, but not as promised. Some people would be devastated. Some people would call it fraud. And partly it is, even if pieces of it made with the milk. This piece here will be about similar way of acting one way, and acting another. While telling the public something else. This here is a kind of way to make something greener then it really is. It isn’t really green, but said so. In a way that mislead the public. Some people calls that way of acting for Greenwashing. It’s a nice way to express them in similar incidence. First certain words will be translated like PEF, PET, PTA and LRB. So that people will know what they are. After that I will show what a certain company called the Coca-Cola Company makes which a famous Bottle the famous PlantBottle™.

Words to know:

  • polyethylene furanoate (PEF)
  • polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • purified terephthalic acid (PTA).
  • liquid refreshment beverages (LRB)

PETPlantbottleProcess2PETPlantbottleProcess2

Bio-Plastic information:

The first information is that it’s renewable made from Sugercane-polyethylene which has the ability to replace 30% of the petroleum that would have been used for making certain type of plastic. The other good piece of using bio-plastic will be lower-carbon footprint (Sugercane.org).

Hitachi company explains what PTA is: “Purified terephthalic acid (PTA) is made by causing a reaction between the secondary petroleum product paraxylene (PX) and acetic acid”. When Hitachi describes PET its like this: “Polyethylene terephthalate(PET) is a general-purpose plastic made through polycondensation of PTA with ethylene glycol (EG). This material has many outstanding properties: resistance to both heat and cold, transparency, electrical qualities, chemical proof and abrasion proof” (Hitachi).

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How Coca-Cola endeavors to make the PlantBottle™:

Here is how it has gone from 2011, when Gevo made an agreement with the Coca-Cola Company to make the second generation plant-bottle with Isobutanol.  Further commenting on the important factor between Coca-Cola and GEVO: “The global market for PET is approximately 50 million metric tons and has a value of $100 billion, with approximately 30 percent used for plastic bottles. In this next generation of PlantBottle™ packaging, Coca-Cola plans to produce plastic beverage bottles made entirely from renewable raw materials” (Gevo, 2011).

PlantBottle-productline

In the same year (2011) Coca-Cola Company made already a deal with Virent: “signing multi-year, multi-million dollar Joint Development and Supply Agreements to scale-up Virent’s plant-based Paraxylene (PX), trademarked BioFormPX, as a route to commercially viable, 100% renewable, 100% recyclable PlantBottle PET resin. In the past, Coca Cola’s PlantBottles have included only 30% plant-based plastic. Virent’s chemical allows the remaining 70% of the bottle to be plant-based” (…) “Virent is one of three companies working with Coca-Cola on PlantBottle technology. The others are Colorado-based Gevo and Avantium, which is based in the Netherlands” (Lane, 2014).

In South Africa in Wadeville outside of Johannesburg, South Africa there is coming a new bottle-plant. This is Africa’s first: “Coca-Cola approved technology for carbonated soft drink bottles thus enabling the closure of the loop in the biggest sector in the beverage market. The 3000m2 Phoenix PET plant, equipped with Starlinger technology, will supply an additional 14 000 tonnes of PET resin per year to the PET packaging industry. It will eventually divert an additional 22 000 tonnes of post-consumer PET bottles from landfills each year, reducing resource consumption, creating jobs and assisting industry in meeting its target of a 50% recycling rate for 2015” (Parkes, 2015).

Later JBF Industries and Coca-Cola went into a partnership in 2012 to produce bio-glycol that will be used in the new plant-bottle. This will end up with a deal and an agreement that will do this: “Construction on the new facility is expected to begin at the end of this year and will last 24 months. At full capacity, it is estimated the facility will produce 500,000 metric tons of material per year. By using plant-based materials instead of nonrenewable materials, the facility will remove the equivalent of 690,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of consuming more than 1.5 million barrels of oil each year” (Mohan, 2012).

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The Dreams of Coca-Cola Company and their PlantBottle™ 2.0:

A spokesman for Coke Scott Vitters commented in 2014 this: “Coca-Cola introduced the world to PlantBottle in 2009. The technology uses natural sugars found in plants to make ingredients identical to the fossil based ones traditionally used in polyester fiber and resins. PlantBottle packaging looks, functions and importantly recycles just like traditional polyester (or PET) plastic, but with a lower dependence on fossil fuels and a lighter environmental footprint on the planet” (…) “Today our first generation PlantBottle technology replaces one of the two ingredients that make PET plastic. Our long-term target is to realize a 100% renewable, fully recyclable plastic bottle. To realize this goal, Coca-Cola is investing millions in local technology companies – companies like Virent in Madison, Wisconsin; Gevo in Englewood, Colorado and Avantium in Amsterdam, the Netherlands” (Vitters, 2014).

“Continuing in rigid high-barrier packaging, polyethylene furanoate (PEF) bottle development remains on track. Avantium has entered into an agreement with ALPLA for development of PEF bottles, with the first bottles targeted to reach market by 2016. Avantium has also partnered with Coca-Cola and Danone in the development of PEF bottles”. (…) ”PEF is a next-generation, bio-based, recyclable polyester developed by Avantium on the basis of furanics technology. According to Avantium, PEF has 50-60 percent lower carbon footprint compared to petroleum-based PET” (Rosato, 2014).

Right now the Coca-Cola Company together with other industry packaging companies as Virent, Gevo and Avantium has made this possible: “The PlantBottle 2.0 represents an upgrade to the existing bio-based PlantBottle the beverage company already uses for some of its drinks. This substitute for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles has a 30% bio-based content, principally derived from Brazilian sugar cane supplied by Braskem”. In the future the same companies hope for “The 100% bioplastic bottle is the result of collaboration between Coca-Cola, Geno and Virent to perfect bio-purified terephthalic acid (PTA). Commercial rollout of PlantBottle 2.0 will take place over the next five years, culminating in a full replacement in 2020” (SustPack).

Ringier Plastics commented this: “From traditional PET to recyclable (also known as R-PET) to bio-based PET, technology and environmental properties have come a long way. PET generally consists of 70% terephthalic acid and 30% monoethylene glycol (MEG). But now it is quite possible to produce bio-based MEG from renewable raw materials instead of fossils. Coca-Cola is a pioneer is adopting bio-PET packaging with its PlantBottle™, producing the first ever fully-recyclable PET plastic beverage bottle using 30% of non-fossil material and resulting in less carbon footprint. Coca-Cola aims to convert all its plastic packaging to PlantBottle by 2020 and entered into a partnership with H.J. Heinz Co. to produce ketchup bottles using PlantBottle material” (Ringier Plastics, 2015).

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The Marketing Companies making PlantBottle™ what it is:

“Fahrenheit 212 worked with Coca-Cola’s global packaging team to translate a complex and contentious advance in polymer production into a clear and compelling consumer proposition.  The PlantBottle brand name evolved from the concept development and strategic positioning work undertaken by Fahrenheit 212 and the PlantBottle icon, which has been now been featured on over 10 billion packages since its launch in 2010, was conceived and created by our in-house design team” (…) “In its first year, PlantBottle was launched in nine global markets, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and the United States across brands such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, Dasani and vitaminwater”  (Fahrenheit 212). The other marketing plan of Coca-Cola company was merged with another agency they did this: “Ogilvy & Mather’s campaign uses Coca-Cola’s iconic red and white color scheme and optical illusions to create intriguing images for the new bottle. The print ads all emphasize a way that plants make us happy, followed by the message that Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle is “Up to 30% made from plants” and “100% recyclable.”“ (Oster, 2014). One of Ogilvy & Mather’s ads just below.

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It all sound beautiful doesn’t it. Mixing PEF and PET like its nothing? Plastic turned fantastic from petroleum based sort of bottle into plant heaven, right? Is there a reason why it just sounds so magnificent! If so, why does it for the last five years show up a dirty dozens of similar quotes from Scott Vitters in all kind of outlets from the Guardian to the New Zealand Scumbag post? That makes a brother like me curious. Especially when they been cooking this for so long.

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Well, there isn’t everybody who has a piece of pay from Coca-Cola Company. This reports I come with now haven’t a clear connection or are in business with the Company. They are separated from it and are on their own. So you should see what their saying and be fascinated.

There many ways of telling how it really is: “Coke invented the Plant Bottle.  The Plant Bottle is made from sugarcane, a food source.  The Plant Bottle is a PET plastic bottle.  The Plant bottle is 100% PET, 70% made from oil and 30% from sugarcane.  The Plant Bottle is not biodegradable and lasts as long as the petroleum-based PET however a large segment of the population believes that the Plant Bottle is, in fact, biodegradable” (…) “Coke has invested heavily in rPET bottle-to-bottle recycling.  Coke is a large buyer of rPET pellets in China and reputedly is putting rPET in small” (…) “The largest producer of rPET pellets in China is tripling its capacity in 2011” (…) “Krones, one of the world’s largest developers and supplies of machinery to the bottling industry is introducing a series of super efficient PET washing and flaking recycling equipment.  rPET flakes and pellets can be manufactured at prices less than virgin PET” (N.Michaels).

Another example of renewable resources usage are PET bottles – called Plant Bottle. Those bottles are composed of PET, produced from terephthalic acid (70 % of mass) and ethylene glycol (30 % of mass). Terephthalic acid comes from oil, whereas glycol is produced from ethanol (deriving from fermentation of vegetable feedstock). Such bottles can be easily recycled, and they can be collected with other (classical) PET bottles. This partially bio-based PET saves global fossil resources and also reduces CO2 emissions. Plant Bottle is 20 % biobased (20 % of the carbon present in the material comes from renewable resources) and 30 % bio-massed (30 % of the mass of the material comes from renewable resources) and a simple scheme on figure 12 shows how the Plant Bottle is made (Plastice).

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Gendell said in 2012 this about the PlantBottle: “The first complexity is that only a portion is plant-based, so the PET is also composed of some things that ought to stay within a technological closed loop” (…) “The other complexity is that there must be a mechanism by which the plant-based material may return to nature and participate in the biological cycle. Even if the first complexity were resolved by making PET entirely from plant-based materials (which is not truly possible today, considering all the catalysts and polymer chemistry whatsits that are not made from plants), the PET would still be an inherently non-biodegradable material” (Gendell, 2012).

In Denmark a Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe is a Danish Consumer Ombudsman says this: “criticized Coke’s use of several marketing ploys, including the use of the word “plant,” excessive green colors and a circular-arrow logo inspired by the familiar symbol for recyclability. The ombudsman also noted a lack of documentation to support Coke’s claim that PlantBottle is “environmentally friendly” or has a “reduced carbon footprint.”” (…) “the bottle contains only a maximum of 15 percent plant material — a percentage he said hardly justifies the designation “PlantBottle.”” (…) “The Consumer Ombudsman requested the trader to indicate the minimum percentage of plant material in the bottle or to explain more clearly why the plant material proportion of the bottle was specified as ‘up to 15 percent” (Zara, 2013).

PETPlantbottleProcess

The issue with getting a 100% Bio-PET bottle is a big issue for Coca-Cola Company. Ordinary PET or 30% Bio-PET bottle has Petroleum-based component considering the bio-based in PEF. The Plastic Packaging Expert Gordon Bockner: “PEF molecule is a contaminant in the existing PET stream. A very small amount of PEF will (a) reduce the performance characteristic of the resulting PET/PEF blend and (b) neither will the blend be crystal clear and glossy, which are two of the key (marketing) attributes OPET. It is, therefore, not realistic to suggest that the two resins might be successfully blended to make a commodity LRB packaging resin” (Pierce, 2014).

Liz Baird the Environmental Consultant has said this about the PlantBottle:”When a company uses their marketing to appeal to the eco-conscious consumer, but they are spending more money marketing than they spend on being green, it’s called greenwashing” (…) “For example, there are some companies who tout their products as green, but if you look at the list of ingredients, palm oil is one of them. Harvesting palm oil is extremely dangerous to the orangutans” (EcoDaily, 2015).

GPC Cycle

After thought:

This here story here is about the 30% Bio Sugarcane based PET Resin and the rest of the bottle 70%. Not the newly released bottle that is supposable 100% BioBased Plant bottle. It hasn’t been addressed yet because I don’t see how it’s made possible and there aren’t reports or scientific how the whole PET resin is made. Therefore I won’t address it today. This here is just a full case on how Coca-Cola Company has described the infamous Plantbottle™. So since this original Plantbottle™ 1.0 is 30%. And call all natural you get the feel of a greenwash perception scheme. That isn’t fair for the consumer or society. It even got a Danish Ombudsman on the tail, but the same scenario and drop hasn’t made a fuzz where else it has been released, this is something about the leniency towards the Coca-Cola Company in these countries that has this specific bottle. That you have many companies on all sides of the globe focusing on how to make a Sugarcane bottle instead of a petroleum-based one, the first step was using 30% of the Bio PET resin. If they will fix it and make it, also make sure that it can contain the material that it’s talking about. It can’t be either or. Has to been made for a certain type of PET-Resin to make it hard enough to be a bottle for production-line and to contain the sugar-caffeine-carbonated-liquid called Coke from Coca-Cola Company.

Wonder how it will be 100% compared to the 1.0 type of bottle. That will be another story. Would be another story to see how the produce and production of Plantbottle 2.0 who supposed to be 100% made of sugarcane. And I might go into detail about that if I get the hold of that information. I can’t write it out of the thin air. Got to taste the carbonated sugar-water and then get the feel of the flavors and ways. Peace.

Reference:

EcoDaily – ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green – Labeling Can Be A Guise’ (01.07.2015) Link: http://ecodaily.org/its-not-easy-being-green-labeling-can-be-a-guise/

Parkes, Lisa – ‘Africa’s first Bottle-2-Bottle Plastic Recycling Plant Opens its Doors in Wadeville’ (13.05.2015) Link: http://www.petco.co.za/ag3nt/system/about_petco_dynamic_blog.php

Oster, Erik – ‘Ogilvy & Mather NY Introduces PlantBottle for Coca-Cola’ (09.06.2015) Link: http://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/ogilvy-mather-ny-launches-plants-make-us-happy-for-coca-cola/67789

Mohan, Anne Marie – ‘Coca-Cola enters partnership to expand PlantBottle production’ (27.09.2012) Link: http://www.greenerpackage.com/bioplastics/coca-cola_enters_partnership_expand_plantbottle_production

Fahrenheit 212 – ‘Coca-Cola PlantBottle – Defining the Consumer Proposition for Bio-PET’ Link: http://www.fahrenheit-212.com/coca-cola-plantbottle/

Rosato, Don – ‘Green plastic barrier packaging material and process advances’ (28.07.2014) Link: http://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/green-plastic-barrier-packaging-material-and-process-advances/food-beverage

Pierce, Lisa McTigue – ‘PEF will not oust PET for beverage bottles anytime soon’ (25.07.2014) Link: http://www.packagingdigest.com/resins/pef-will-not-oust-pet-for-beverage-bottles-anytime-soon140724

N.Michaels: ‘Why and When will Bottle-to-Bottle rPET Technology Dominate?’ (03.12.2010) Link: http://theplanetbottle.net/news/2010/12/why-and-when-will-bottle-to-bottle-rpet-technology-dominate/#sthash.QksuvCPg.dpuf

Lane, Isabel – ‘Coke invests further in scaling Virent’s paraxylene production for PlantBottle’ (09.09.2014) link: http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2014/09/09/coke-invests-further-in-scaling-virents-paraxylene-production-for-plantbottle/

Gendell, Adam – ‘The catch behind Coca-Cola’s switch to plant-based bottles’ (10.10.2012) Link: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2012/10/10/catch-behind-coca-colas-switch-plant-based-bottles

Ringier Plastics – ‘Bio-based PET shows the way forward’ (07.05.2015) Link: http://www.industrysourcing.com/article/bio-based-pet-shows-way-forward

Vitters, Scott – ‘Statement of Scott Vitters General Manager, PlantBottle Innovation Platform The Coca-Cola Company United States Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry United States Senate June 17, 2014’

PTA – ‘Production process for purified terephthalic acid (PTA)’ Link: http://www.hitachi.com/businesses/infrastructure/product_site/ip/process/pta.html

PET – ‘Production process for polyethylene terephthalate (PET)’ Link: http://www.hitachi.com/businesses/infrastructure/product_site/ip/process/pet.html

Sugarcane.org – ‘Bioplastics’ Link: http://sugarcane.org/sugarcane-products/bioplastics

SustPack – ‘Coca-Cola Gives Expo Debut To 100% Bio-Based PlantBottle’ Link: http://www.sustainability-in-packaging.com/news/coca-cola-gives-expo-debut-to-100-bio-based-plantb

Gevo – ‘Bio-based Isobutanol to Enable Coca-Cola to Develop Second Generation PlantBottle™ Packaging’ link: http://www.gevo.com/?casestudy=bio-based-isobutanol-to-enable-coca-cola-to-develop-second-generation-plantbottle-packaging

Zara, Christopher – ‘Coca-Cola Company (KO) Busted For ‘Greenwashing’: PlantBottle Marketing Exaggerated Environmental Benefits, Says Consumer Report’ (03.09.2013) Link: http://www.ibtimes.com/coca-cola-company-ko-busted-greenwashing-plantbottle-marketing-exaggerated-environmental-benefits

Patent – ‘Method of making a bottle made of fdca and diol monomers and apparatus for implementing such method’ (31.08.2012): http://www.google.com/patents/WO2014032731A1?cl=en

Plastice – ‘Bioplastics – Opportunity for the Future’ (2013) Link: http://www.central2013.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/Downloads/outputlib/Plastice_Bioplastics_Opportunity_for_the_Future_web.pdf

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