A brand-new partnership has been announced this week that will see three pioneering corporations embark on a joint venture in the fight against plastic waste.
Global consumer goods company Unilever has teamed up with fresh-starter Ioniqa and one of the world’s largest PET resin producers, Indorama Ventures, to create ground-breaking technology that will enable PET waste to revert to its origins as virgin grade material to later be used in food packaging.
This potentially revolutionary technology created by Ioniqa functions by breaking down PET waste into base molecules, separating out colours and pollutants that cannot be used in recycled material. The left-over molecules are then transformed back into PET that can then go on to be reused in new packaging products.
While this innovative technology has already been created and piloted by developers at Ioniqa, further testing is needed on a larger scale to decipher whether it will be successful industrially.
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is commonly used in plastic packaging around the world; however, the majority of PET products are never recycled, with a mere 20% being converted back into reusable material. This means that an estimated 80% of PET ends up either being burned, dumped in landfills, or left to waste naturally, causing major concerns for the environment. Consequently, this striving partnership has been formed in a bid to provide a long-term solution to this global problem.
David Blanchard, Unilever’s Chief R&D Officer, shared his enthusiasm for the new venture and said: “We want all of our packaging to be fit for a world that is circular by design, stepping away from the take-make-dispose model that we currently live in.
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. Indeed, making the PET stream fully circular would be a major milestone towards this ambition, not just helping Unilever, but transforming industry at large.”
Similarly, Tonnis Hooghoudt, Founder of Ioniqa welcomed the new partnership and said: “To scale up our unique solution for PET plastics, we are delighted to work together with partners like Unilever and Indorama Ventures. Through our collaboration, Ioniqa’s innovative technology can turn PET waste into a truly circular material which holds value after disposal by consumers, helping to clean up the planet.”
Finally, Group CEO of Indorma Ventures, Aloke Lohia, said: “We aspire to be a world-class chemical company making great products for society, and this partnership is fully aligned with our vision.”
As industry experts in polyolefin shrink wrap, we know there is no simple solution to tackling the high levels of plastic consumption around the world. However, with budding new partnerships like this one, not only can the capabilities of PET packaging itself be transformed but with luck, so can the behaviours and attitudes surrounding it.