Consumer goods giant Unilever has announced a partnership with start-up company Ioniqa and PET resin maker Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. to pioneer a new technology which converts PET waste back into virgin grade material for use in food packaging.
Eindhoven, Germany-based Ioniqa has developed a proprietary technology that is able to convert any PET waste back into transparent virgin grade material, a technology that the three partnering companies believe will "transform" the industry.
In an April 4 news release, Unilever, which has headquarters in both London and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, said Ioniqa's technology had successfully passed its pilot stage and is now moving toward testing at an industrial scale.
The new technology takes non-recycled PET waste — including colored bottles — and breaks it down to base molecule level. The process allows it to separate the color and other contaminants.
The molecules are converted back into virgin grade quality PET at Indorama's facility.
According to Unilever, if proven successful at industrial scale, the technology will make it possible to convert all PET back into high quality, food-grade packaging.
In 2017, Unilever committed to making all of its plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
“This innovation is particularly exciting because it could unlock one of the major barriers today — making all forms of recycled PET suitable for food packaging,” said David Blanchard, Unilever's chief R&D officer.