In an article published on December 12, 2018, by The Wall Street Journal, author Saabira Chaudhuri reports on the rising consumer criticism of and regulations on single-use plastic in the bottled water market. “Bottled-water sales have boomed in recent decades amid safety fears about tap water and a shift away from sugary drinks.” However, the article explains that “more recently, images of bottles overflowing landfills and threatening sea life have soured consumers.” This has in turn led to brands experimenting with alternative packaging options including glass and aluminum, promotion of home flavoring and carbonation systems, and better recycling technologies for polyethylene terephthalate (PET). “Existing recycling technology needs clean, clear plastic to make new water bottles, and bottled-water companies say low recycling rates and a lack of infrastructure have stymied supply.”

The article further highlights one company in the field that is aspiring to solve this problem and meet the growing demand for high quality recycled PET. Bottling executives looking for solutions to the PET bottle problem learned that “a Montreal-based startup, Loop Industries Inc., had developed a process to break [down] plastic into its base ingredients. The process didn’t use heat or pressure, so contaminants didn’t melt into the plastic and could be filtered out.” The company is reported to have already signed supply deals with multiple major bottlers, however “Loop has yet to scale up its technology, and the company said its production plant won’t be ready until 2020.”

Plastics recycling has been discussed as being complex (FPF reported), and similar efforts by other industry groups are being made to develop better PET recycling technology (FPF reported).

Read more

Saabira Chaudhuri (December 12, 2018). “Plastic Water Bottles, Which Enabled a Drinks Boom, Now Threaten a Crisis.” Wall Street Journal.

Loop Industries. “Why our process is revolutionary.”

Cathy Siegner (January 2, 2019). “Packaging challenges could leave bottled water companies all wet.Food Dive