Mendoza School of Business

PepsiCo finds key to making plastic bottle from plant waste

Published: March 15, 2011 / Author: Gregory reporter

It’s an environmental as well as a marketing achievement: using 100 percent agricultural waste to make a top-quality plastic bottle that can then be placed back into the existing recycling system

“It’s closing the loop,” said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s the beginning of the end for petroleum-based plastic bottles.”

PepsiCo announced Tuesday that it “cracked the code,” inventing what it calls the world’s first plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources.

Down to the molecular level, it’s a clone of today’s plastic bottles, made with the resin polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. The biggest difference is that manufacturing this bottle requires the use of no petroleum.

Instead, it is made from such renewable materials as switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. The company expects to use other materials, such as orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its own food businesses, which include product lines under the brands Frito-Lay, Tropicana and Quaker.

PepsiCo’s “green” bottle is an acceleration of an environmental arms race to help not only Mother Earth, but the corporate bottom line.

About two years ago, Coca-Cola introduced the “PlantBottle.” It is made of 30 percent plant material, specifically sugar cane waste. Heinz, the ketchup-maker, said last month it will use the renewable bottle from Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola did not return a call for comment.

But PepsiCo’s bottle will be 100 percent made from plant waste.

“It could be a game changer for them,” said Carol Phillips, a University of Notre Dame marketing professor and president of market research firm Brand Amplitude. “In the cola wars, every little bit means something. It’s a game of perception. It can tip the balance, at least for a while.”

To read the entire article visit: PepsiCo finds key to making plastic bottle from plant waste


Topics: Mendoza