Bioplastic, Company initiatives, Products, Video

Avantium’s 100% biobased T-shirts from recycled PEF bottles

The first time I covered Avantium’s PEF (polyethylene furanoate) resin, which is being offered as an alternative to PET (polyethylene terephthalate), one of the industry concerns about this new bio-based material is if it can fit into the existing PET bottle infrastructure including its recyclability.

This recent news from Avantium is proving that PEF bottles could also have similar end-of-life solutions as that of PET bottles.

Avantium announced today that it has demonstrated the recyclability of PEF bottles into PEF fibers, which were then processed into 100% bio-based T-shirts (I would love to get a sample of that shirt *wink* *wink*). The PEF T-shirts were made by the Institute of Textile Technology at RWTH Aachen University using conventional polyester processing technology and equipment.

“These first PEF T-shirts are yet another important step in the development and commercialization of PEF as a 100% biobased and recyclable material”, comments Tom van Aken, Avantium CEO. “The production of the first biobased PEF T-shirts produced from recycled bottles, adds apparel and sportswear to the many potential outlets of PEF. With its reduced carbon footprint, and improved performance, PEF is truly the sustainable plastic material of the future.”

Avantium’s 100% bio-based PEF bottles are made from the company’s patented YXY molecule based on 2,5 furandicarboxylic (FDCA) combined with plant-based monoethylene glycol (MEG). Avantium noted that PEF even has properties superior to PET such as higher barrier to oxygen, carbon dioxide and water, extending product shelf life and reducing production costs. PEF is said to have carbon footprint that is 50-70% lower compared to today’s PET.

Avantium is producing FDCA from its 40 tonnes/year pilot plant in Geleen, the Netherlands. Avantium plans to start commercial production of FDCA and PEF in 2016 through a 50,000 tons/year plant although the company did not indicate where it will be located.

Last year, Avantium has partnered with Danone’s research organization to jointly develop recyclable PEF bottles for Danone’s global bottled water business. In late 2011, Avantium has also partnered with Coca-Cola. This year, Avantium has partnered with European plastic converter ALPLA for the development of PEF bottles, as well as with Wifag-Polytype for the development of thermoformed PEF containers, drinking cups and trays.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

Discussion

3 Responses to “Avantium’s 100% biobased T-shirts from recycled PEF bottles”

  1. Thank you for your post, Doris. I really enjoyed reading it. I consider this topic is extremely important for all mankind.

    You are absolutely right saying tht “with its reduced carbon footprint, and improved performance, PEF is truly the sustainable plastic material of the future.”

    “It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours”. (John F. Kennedy)

    Posted by Red Cocoon | November 15, 2013, 6:12 am
  2. There are two lingering questions with this material. 1. It’s important to note that PEF may fit into the existing recycling stream in low quantities, just like PLA, PVC, and EVOH. Unfortunately this will only continue to deteriorate the “yield” of PET recyclers as they process any PEF bottles, which, as of yet, have not been proven to be indistinguishable from PET bottles in the recycling sort process. A la. I can recycle a bag of dog feces and in low enough quantities it will “make it through” the PET recycling process.

    2. Price – yes, there are extreme benefits from a carbon standpoint, but there are also great benefits from recycled PET. Do brand owners flock to PCR because of the sustainability benefits of PCR – not necessarily, because many times they’re scared of the cost increases, which may be literally pennies per pound. PEF is sure to be a 20-40% mark up on PET, which may continue to decrease in price, no matter what Coke says. So goes a great innovation that enters a challenging market.

    Good luck to Alpla, Coke, Danone and Avantium, though. It would have been nice to see PEF 20 years ago.

    Posted by Mike Elmer | January 23, 2014, 11:17 am

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