PepsiCo Inc.'s answer to Coca-Cola Co.'s PlantBottle is its own PET bottle made completely from plant-based materials.
By comparison, Coke's PlantBottle, introduced in 2009, sources 30 percent of its material from plants.
This breakthrough innovation is a transformational development for PepsiCo and the beverage industry, and a direct result of our commitment to research and development, said Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo.
PepsiCo is in a unique position, as one of the world's largest food and beverage businesses, to ultimately source agricultural byproducts from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally preferable bottle for our beverages business, Nooyi said in a news release.
Currently the company said the bottle is made from bio-based raw materials, including switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. PepsiCo is working to expand sources for the raw materials to organic waste from its food businesses, including orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts.
Currently, Coke's PlantBottle is made using sugarcane ethanol from Brazil.
While Pepsi is trumping Coke on the percentage of bio-based resin in its bottles, Coke has a significant head start on the technology. The Pepsi bottle will first appear on the market in pilot production in 2012, the company said, and it will move to full-scale commercialization upon successful completion of the pilot.
Atlanta-based Coke, on the other hand, expects to use 5 billion PlantBottle packages in 2011, and has already teamed up with food giant H.J. Heinz Co. to start packaging Heinz ketchup in PlantBottles this year.
Both Coke and Pepsi said their bottles are recyclable in the existing PET stream. Dave Cornell, technical director of the Washington-based Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, expects recyclers to have no problem with either bottle.
The Coke bottle certainly is fully compatible. The ethylene glycol used to make the resin is chemically identical to that from natural gas liquids, Cornell said.
We don't know much about the Pepsi bottle. The expectation is the ethylene glycol situation is the same as for Coke. The terephthalic acid part of the PET very probably will have the same chemical identity as that from conventional paraxylene. There are several potential routes to terephthalic acid from plants. It will be interesting to hear which one has been chosen. But as far as compatibility goes, we fully expect the PET to be identical with the PET commercially made today.
The March 15 PepsiCo announcement is reminiscent of a dual that the cola giants had over sustainable PET packaging more than 20 years ago.
On Dec. 4, 1990, both Coke and Pepsi each announced that they planned to commercialize cola in bottles made from recycled PET.
Just like today, Coke ended up being first to market its bottles hit store shelves in Charlotte, N.C., on March 12, 1991. Pepsi introduced its recycled-content bottle in Sacramento, Calif., about eight months later.
Plastics News Editor Don Loepp contributed to this story.