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Coca-Cola Gets on Board With European PET Recycling Program to Boost Circularity

Adding significant weight to the fledgling DEMETO project for chemical recycling of PET, the group announced that The Coca-Cola Company will join its Industrial Advisory Board.

DEMETO– the modular, scalable and high-performance “DE-polymerization by MicrowavE TechnolOgy”–is a European project founded in September that is financed by the European Community as part of its Horizon 2020 industrial research initiative. The consortium is working to create a new method of chemically recycling PET, invented by gr3n, that is sustainable and profitable.

The Industrial Advisory Board of DEMETO is a committee of external stakeholders that will interact with the members of the consortium to provide feedback and comments to steer the direction of its business development activities. The advisory board already consists of 16 companies involved in the complete PET/polyester value chain at different levels, including top brands in home textiles, apparel textiles, home goods, personal care and drinks, as well as plastic converters, waste collectors and recyclers.

“Consumers around the world expect companies like ours to be leaders and help make a litter-free world possible,” Maria Luisa Polli, technical director of Coca-Cola for Central and Eastern Europe, said. “Through our ‘World Without Waste’ vision, we are investing to help make the world’s packaging waste problem a thing of the past. We will do this through a renewed focus on the entire packaging lifecycle–from how bottles and cans are designed and made to how they’re recycled and repurposed. Producing PET from recycled plastic in a sustainable and profitable way is an important step forward.”

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Polli said by joining DEMETO, Coca-Cola wants to help the project “make new revolutionary technologies available in support of a circular economy.” DEMETO and Coca-Cola share a common interest in closing the loop of the plastics circular economy, the group said, since as one of the largest beverage producers worldwide, it relies on PET in various applications, from transport to packaging, and has long supported and enabled PET recycling.

“As Demeto project coordinator and lead for the design and construction of the pilot plant, we are proud to work with The Coca-Cola Company on the DEMETO project,” Gaetano Iaquaniello, Processi Innovativi managing director, said. “The Coca-Cola Company represents one of the largest users of PET in the world and the fact that this project has raised the company’s interest means that producing PET from recycled plastic is indeed an important step forward in environmental protection by the major players in this sector.”

The project aims to build an industrial plant for chemical recycling of PET. Although PET is one of the most widely used materials in the packaging industry, only 20 percent of it is recycled and enters back into the value chain, DEMETO noted. Unlike mechanical recycling, DEMETO’s technology allows a complete recovery of PET without any degradation of the material.