Pepsi tests bottle made from plants

Ideally, the new plastic would be made of leftover agricultural waste. For now, it can't be recycled.

By Kim Peterson Mar 15, 2011 3:56PM
 © 2010 PepsiCo Inc.Pepsi (PEP) will start testing a bottle made entirely out of plants. Sounds crazy, but the plastic is gaining traction and other bottlers could follow.

The bottle is made from switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and other materials, The Associated Press reports. And Pepsi is working on ways to include leftovers from its food business, including orange peels, potato scraps and oat hulls.

No, the bottle won't taste like pine trees or Fritos. Pepsi says it looks and feels exactly the same as existing bottles. It does the same job of protecting the drink inside.

Pepsi appears a lot further along on this innovation than Coca-Cola (KO). Coke makes a bottle with 30% plant-based plastic and doesn't plan on going 100% anytime soon. "For the next five to 10 years we don't see biodegradable plastics as an option for our bottles," said a Coca-Cola executive in 2009, according to PlasticsToday.com.

Post continues after video:
This summer, Heinz will begin bottling its ketchup in 30% bioplastic bottles, and it has partnered with Coca-Cola to use its formula. Coca-Cola recently said its packaging, with only 30% bioplastic, eliminates the equivalent of about 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or approximately 60,000 barrels of oil, Reuters reports.

Pepsi will begin testing its all-plant plastic bottle next year, starting with a few hundred thousand units. If the test goes well, the company could begin using the material in all of its products.

"This is the beginning of the end of petroleum-based plastics," a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council told the AP. "When you have a company of this size making a commitment to a plant-based plastic, the market is going to respond."

Traditional plastic is made with petroleum and other fossil fuels. The goal is to eliminate petroleum in plastic by using plants. Ideally, bottlers wouldn't have to grow plants specifically for that purpose. Instead, they would use the billions of tons of agricultural waste produced each year, the AP reports.

But here's a downer: These plant-based plastics can't be recycled, at least according to current recycling technologies. At least Coke's bottles are recyclable.
30Comments
Mar 15, 2011 7:23PM
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ok, ya'll need to read. true they aren't recyclable at the moment, but unlike petroleum based plastic, they do break down and BIO-degrade (ie:go back to nature). so, yes, they add to the land fill ATM, but like a banana peel they won't be there after a while. How long? No clue. However, if they develope a recycle method, then not only will the ones that are recycled be reused in some manner, but the ones that the lazy, wastefull folks toss out will go away as well. It's what they call in a green world, a win-win.
Mar 15, 2011 9:07PM
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RELEGALIZE hemp and we can do this sort of thing with all plastics.
Mar 15, 2011 7:00PM
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Where's the common sense?  If it is made out of 100% plants, then it doesn't need to be recycled...it recycles itself over time naturally as fertilizer.  This is great news.  The negative is that Coke's bottles are still 70% plastic, which is why they NEED to be recycled.  Use common sense people.  People are trying to cast a negative spin on a positive story for Pepsi.  I'm just curious what the breakdown timeframe of the plant-plastic is...
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What do you mean "At least Coke's bottles are recyclable"? That's ridiculous!

Pepsi is recycling plants into bottles. Coke is making them from chemicals. Are you worried that these plant based bottles are going to go into the ground where they started from?

That's some ridiculous bias you have going on there.

Mar 15, 2011 8:09PM
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BlackKnight48 wrote

Before all of you start cheering Pepsi, you had better read the entire article. Pepsi's bottle is not recyclable, at all. While Coke is only 30% made of bark and other items, it is recyclable. What Pepsi is creating is another nightmare of a product that can't be disposed of.

 

And for anyone else that thinks this is a bad idea, google bioplastic. You will find that it doesn't need to be recycled because it's lifecycle is less than 18 months, sometimes much less, when composted.

 

They can't be recycled because the bonds naturally break down over time and therefore can't be reused, there is no downer. Shred the bottles and compost them and make new bottles. FROM corn starch! not in short supply and totally renewable. I don't see a problem at all. Do a little further digging and LEARN something people!

Mar 15, 2011 7:57PM
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Agree with Maud-Dib.  Hooray for bio-degradeable.  Everyone that thinks recycling is end-all, be-all need to watch Penn & Teller's Bullsh!t show, Season 2 episode 5, all on recycling.  It is a view I agree with.

How about re-usuable containers for certain products so we aren't throwing anything out?  Why can't we have standardized containers for things like shampoo, soap, detergent, bread, coffee, juices, sugar, etc?  A little inconvenient to bring these in every time you shop but helps reduce landfill but with such a huge population as the world has never seen, I would say inconvenience is a small price to pay.

Mar 15, 2011 8:19PM
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Actually, our school sells water in those bottles completely made of plants. I don't buy them (why would you, with drinking fountains that doesn't use plastic, plant-based or otherwise. Besides the little spout guard). And the composition of the water is about the same, no matter how fancy it looks. My advice: get a tin canister, get water from the tap (filter if you need to. The water around here is pretty tasty, filtered or not. I have no idea what the metropolitan areas' water looks like), less use of any plastic.
That's just water, but Pepsi is different. This is still a pretty new innovation, and I'll be happy to see how this goes. Remember the compostable sunchips bag? The company rid the idea because people kept complaining of the noisiness. Seriously, you guys? Europe is VERY conscientious of the environment, but we can't make one small change because of a little annoyance? How ignorant are we?
Overall, I approve of this. I hope we continue on this trend so even the laziest of people will give something back to the environment.

Mar 15, 2011 8:30PM
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If the bottle is not recyclable, is it compostable?

Can the bottles be shredded and used as mulch?

Mar 15, 2011 6:48PM
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They do not bottle Soda pop in paper based cartons for the simple fact the package could not deal with the pressure of the contents. Juice can be sold in paper cartons because they do not contain the carbonation Soda Pop has. 
Mar 15, 2011 6:59PM
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Someone needs to do the math for me.  If they are using biowaste that was already headed for trash, then not being recyclable is less of an issue, no?  Isn't the point that they are not using petrol chemicals, reducing the amount of oil that is being used and hopefully, for a soda swilling nation like the US, getting us one step closer to less dependency on it?  Not sure what percentage of plastic bottles actually get recycled at this point anyway, and when they are recycled, what are they used for?  That plastic is already pretty degraded at that point.  Not sure about paper, I know a lot of places that don't recycle juice or milk cartons.  Such a shame.

Now, if these can biodegrade as part of compost, that would really be something.

Mar 15, 2011 7:13PM
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Just because its a plant-based plastic doesn't necessarily mean that its completely biodegradable.  But that's exactly what I would like to know about it!  How is the waste going to be handled??  I they are biodegradable in a significant time frame, then recycling isn't an issue.  But I find it hard to believe that they are completely biodegradable, which makes me think that before Pepsi goes through with the switch, they should make the bottles either completely recyclable, or completely biodegradable.
Mar 15, 2011 8:45PM
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I think that any thing we do to stop the use of oil or other fossil fuels will help in the long run, Could the plastic be used for other uses   ie.. water bottles or car parts or computers.

 

 

How about glass bottles again,They can melt them down

Mar 15, 2011 7:23PM
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It would be optimal if the plant based bottles could be recycled, but even so, they would be much more biodegradable which is absolutely what the earth needs.  Plastic in it's raw form will last far to long.  There is a trade off for anything that is not natural at it's core.  The more natural in everything, the less price we all pay in a multitude of ways.  Aho to Coke for saving 60 million barrels of poison crude with the use of the biodgradable bottles and to Heintz for following suit.  Pepsi needs to catch up, surpass, or follow suit.

Mar 16, 2011 12:26AM
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Where I used to live, there was a company that had recyling bins on wheels that they placed in parking lots where lots of people could drop their items off. They took cardboard, paper, phone books, PETE and HDPE, and all colors of glass. For metals they took tin and aluminum, with copper and brass dropped of a few times.

 

Now, where I have moved to, there is a place in town where they pay for all metals. The county runs places to take one's garbage or recyleables. They take PETE and HDPE, plus cardboard and paper. No one takes glass. Not the company that buys things, or the country or even the city. It just goes to the dump and stays there.

 

PETE is #1. HDPE is #2. There are also #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7 and no one recycles them because there is no market for them.

Mar 15, 2011 7:00PM
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I still do not know why they did away with the glass bottles. Except for the fact both companies probably sell more plastic bottles because you don't have to return the plastic ones, just throw it away and destroy the environment more. I also think that any of the soda pops tasted better in bottles too.

Mar 15, 2011 7:56PM
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While recycling a plastic bottle is good thing, why hasn't anyone asked what the bottle does to us.  Plastic is toxic.  We poison ourselves and our environment every day!  Plant based is a good way to start but don't forget to find out what it would do to the consumer as well as making it recyclable. 
Mar 15, 2011 9:26PM
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Lenny, We use other people's oil and fight for it because it will one day run out. When that happens we will still have our own oil to make the transition to other fuels a little easier. Politics isn't all stupid. There are just things that we have to think about as a country that citizens don't think about. Running a nation requires long term planning. We don't promote democracy because its cool or makes us happy. We promote it because the U.S. would not survive a communist controlled world. Think long term.
Mar 15, 2011 6:56PM
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This is great! That these food giants are starting to get the message that we no longer can continue to use petroleum based products is wonderful.

 

By the way, Coca Cola lovers, it is really true that if you go to a Mexican grocery store you can buy Coke bottled in Mexico and is made with real sugar, NOT HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP! It really does taste like "The Real Thing", as Coke used to say in their advertisements.

Mar 15, 2011 8:36PM
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Mr. Mehta have good Idea but will paper hold pressure under which soft drinks are Bottled 
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