Two companies worked together to introduce a bottle at K 2010 that the partners consider the greenest on the planet.
The so-called Planet Bottle is made from 100 percent recycled PET, with oxo-biodegradable additives in both bottle and label.
The partners say the bottles are recyclable, just like regular PET. But if consumers fail to return them for recycling, they will degrade instead, whether they end up as litter or in a landfill.
Planet Bottle Corp. CEO Patrick Rooney got involved in plastics because he felt packagers needed to do something to make bottles biodegrade, because everybody these days seems to hate plastic bottles.
At this point, his customers have been small bottlers. For example, a company in Quebec has used oxo-biodegradable PET to compete with another bottler that uses recycled PET.
Rooney's initial goal was to come up with a degradable drink container. He started off looking at bio-based resins, like polylactic acid. Then he took a look at oxo-biodegradable additives, which are commonly used in some plastic bags.
I thought, 'You guys have been doing this for plastic bags for 20 years. Why can't it be done for PET?'
Calgary, Alberta-based Planet Bottle worked with Wells Plastics Ltd., a Stone, England-based producer of additive masterbatches and developer of the Reverte-grand range of oxo-biodegradable products.
Planet Bottle's breakthrough came out in 2008, with a PET bottle made with virgin resin and the Reverte additive, molded at Plastic Technologies Inc.
Rooney is aware that recyclers have questioned the wisdom of putting oxo-biodegradable additives in the PET recycling stream. Some are worried about the impact the additives will have on recycled resins, which are sometimes used in durable applications.
I believe in recycling, but the statistics say it isn't working, Rooney said. In 2008, the U.S. recycling rate for PET was 28 percent. And he points out that if the Planet Bottle is successful, the firm has the potential to be a huge customer for PET recyclers.
Right now he's trying to convince one of the Big Three drink makers Coke, Pepsi or Nestlé to give the bottle a try.
The CEOs are going to make this decision, not the buyers. They're not going to want their legacy to be all these [unrecycled] bottles, Rooney said at the Dusseldorf show.
Carl Birch, sales and marketing director at Wells Plastics, said his company has been working with plastics recyclers to make sure that Reverte does not have a negative impact on the recycling stream. Wells has simulated how recyclers would be affected if up to 5 percent of all PET bottles contained the additive. The tests included looking at the impact of the additive on the strength and color of the resulting recycled resin.
Planet Bottle, formerly Planet Green Bottle Corp., became publicly traded in January following a reverse merger with medical imaging firm Imagin Molecular Corp. Planet Bottle reported no revenue, and net loss of $221,944, for the quarter ended Sept. 30.