Today’s breakout session at the 2012 BIO Convention, Petroleum, PET and PlantBottle – Reducing Dependence on Oil Imports for Plastics, featured Scott Vitters from the Coca Cola Company, Kieran Furlong of Virent and Bob Bernacki of Gevo. The three talked about PlantBottle, a commercial solution already on the market that reduces petroleum in plastic bottles and other PET products by 30 percent.
Vitters said Coca Cola does not want to stop there so they are collaborating with research and development partners, NGOs and other brand owners to create a 100 percent plant-based PET technology by 2020. They wanted to take this technology and make it real for consumers on a daily basis so the functional, recyclable and renewable PlantBottle was created. In the past two years, Coca Cola consumers have used 10 billion PlantBottles in more than 20 countries.
According to Vitters, Coca Cola’s interest in winning in this space was around leading others to use this technology as well. Heinz ketchup is another brand that already uses this packaging for their products. With biotech companies, Virent, Gevo and Avantium, Coca Cola is partnering with Nike, Ford, P&G and Heinz to continue to drive this technology.
Gevo’s Bernacki looked at why a company would want to use this technology. He highlighted the ability to differentiate your product helping grow your market share or allowing you to charge a premium price. Companies can also reduce their carbon footprint while utilizing regional feedstocks rather than relying on volatile prices and availability of crude oil.
Furlong talked about Virent’s technology being feedstock flexible meaning customers can choose the plant sugar source that makes the most sense for their situation including conventional sugars and a wide variety of cellulosic biomass from non-food sources. This allows the technology to be used anywhere in the world, and using local feedstocks can result in energy and economic independence from crude oil.
Vitters cited Thomas Edison’s belief that the power of an idea is in its use. As Coca Cola predicts by 2020 customers will consume 3 billion servings of its products each day, and as an increasing number of other brands adopt this technology as well, it certainly is shaping up to be an extremely powerful idea.