This is big news coming from Synvina (the JV between Avantium and BASF) as the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP) – a voluntary initiative of industry organizations representing waste collectors, plastic recyclers, PET material producers and brand owners, gave an interim approval for the recyclability of polyethylene furanoate (PEF).
Following EPBP’s assessment, PEF bottles are expected to be disposable through existing recovery systems the same way as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the conventional material for plastic bottles. The interim approval applies to a PEF market penetration of up to 2%, which corresponds to the amount of PEF that could be produced from Synvina’s intended 50,000 tons reference plant for furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). A final statement based on PEF quality, packaging designs and regional launch markets will be issued before market introduction of the novel material.
On the expectation that PEF quantities in the European packaging market will exceed the 2% market share on a medium term, Synvina is expected to collaborate with recyclers and brand owners to develop a dedicated recycling stream for PEF based bottles to separate PEF from conventional plastics. PEF recycling in other markets like the US and Japan will be reviewed near-time.
PEF has been touted with having improved barrier properties for gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen which leads to a longer shelf life of packaged products. This performance alone led to high interests from beverage companies such as Coca-Cola, Danone, Nestle, etc. In addition, Synvina noted PEF’s higher mechanical strength, thus thinner PEF packaging can be produced and fewer resources are required. PEF is also said to be suitable as the main component or as a barrier layer in cups and trays, flexible packaging as well as bottles for carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, water, dairy products, still and sports drinks, alcoholic beverages as well as personal and home care products.