Suntory Group declared that as a critical step toward utilizing 100% sustainable PET bottles globally by 2030 and stopping all petroleum-based virgin plastic from its international PET supply, the group has successfully made a prototype PET bottle from 100% plant-based materials.
The prototype has been created for its iconic Orangina brand in Europe and its best-selling bottled mineral water brand in Japan, Suntory Tennensui. This information marks a breakthrough after an almost decade-long collaboration with the US-based sustainable technology firm Anellotech.
The raw material of Plant-based bottle
PET is made using two raw materials, 70% terephthalic acid (PTA) and 30% mono-ethylene glycol (MEG). Suntory’s prototype plant-based bottle is produced by blending Anellotech’s new technology, a plant-based paraxylene derived from wood chips, which has been transformed to plant-based PTA, and pre-existing plant-based MEG made from molasses which Suntory has been utilizing in its Suntory Tennensui in Japan since 2013.
“We’re pleased with this accomplishment, as it fetches us one step nearer to having this sustainable PET bottle in the hands of our customers,” said Tsunehiko Yokoi, Executive Officer of Suntory MONOZUKURI Expert Ltd. “The importance of this technology is that the PTA is made from non-food biomass to avoid rival with the food chain, while MEG is also derived from non-food grade feedstock.”
This innovation is an added step towards accomplishing Suntory Group’s ambition to stop using all petroleum-derived virgin PET plastic bottles worldwide by transitioning to 100% recycled or plant-based PET bottles by 2030. The utterly recyclable prototype plant-based bottle is incredibly lower carbon emissions than the petroleum-derived virgin bottle.
“This triumph is the outcome of over ten years of thorough and painstaking evolution work by Anellotech’s dedicated employees, together with Suntory and other partners,” said David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech.
“The competitive benefit of Anellotech’s Bio-TCat generated paraxylene is its function efficiency (it uses a single-step thermal catalytic process by going directly from biomass to aromatics (benzene, toluene, and xylene)), as well as the possibility it makes for a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions as compared to its comparable fossil-derived paraxylene in the manufacture of PET, particularly as it develops required process energy from the biomass feedstock itself.”
This technology is one of the most delinquent investments from Suntory in the company’s long narrative of addressing the social and environmental influences of containers and packaging. In 1997, Suntory established its “Guidelines for the Environmental Design of Containers and Packaging.”
For plastic bottles primarily, it has utilized its 2R+B (Reduce/Recycle + Bio) method to decrease the weight of containers, including labels and caps, and actively present recycled or plant-based materials in its plastic bottles used globally. Most remarkably, it has formed the lightest bottle cap, the thinnest bottle label, and the most lightweight PET bottle produced in Japan to date.
“Suntory has been embedded in work to develop sustainable packaging solutions since 1997. This plant-based bottle prototype celebrates our historic dedication while shining light, not only on our route to reaching our 2030 fully sustainable PET bottle goal but also towards our aim to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the whole value chain by 2050,” said Tomomi Fukumoto, Sustainability Management COO at Suntory Holdings.
This milestone strengthens the incredible momentum of Suntory’s continuous work on encouraging plastic circular economizing via the growth of sustainable materials, adoption of circular procedures, investment in advanced pioneer technologies, and promoting behavioral transformation for customers. Suntory aims to commercialize this 100% plant-based bottle as soon as possible to meet its 2030 completely sustainable PET bottle goal.