banner
plastic bottles

Leaders in the food packaging industry are looking for ways to move away from plastics that harm the environment, and new technologies are in development to help accomplish their goals.

For instance, France-based Carbios is developing the first biological technology to transform the end-of-life of plastics, says Martin Stephan, deputy CEO of Carbios. The company has developed a novel enzyme that can biologically depolymerize all polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic waste so that it can be efficiently recycled into new bottles. PET, the most common thermoplastic polymer, is used to manufacture bottles, polyester clothing fibers, and food containers.

Current recycling processes, which are mechanical rather than biological, are not able to break down the plastic to its original form. As a result, the recycled products they produce do not meet the same quality standards as original PET plastic.

Carbios’ process is “truly a recycling process, not just reuse,” Stephan says. “Any kind of PET post-consumer waste, including a transparent bottle, colored bottle, opaque bottle, or mixed packaging, is used as a raw material to make any kind of PET product, with the same quality and specifications as a ‘virgin’ PET.”

The enzyme that Carbios has developed and optimized is so selective that PET—“and PET only”—is broken down into monomers, Stephan says. Anything left in the waste stream, such as other polymers, paper, or adhesives, does not influence the process. The process operates at biological temperature, with hydrolysis at 72°C, atmospheric pressure, in water.

The food and beverage industry has made bold commitments to use more and more recycled plastics in their packaging to help reduce plastics pollution in the world, but “the objectives that have been set cannot be met with the current technologies of mechanical recycling,” Stephan says. He believes that Carbios’ technology can help food and beverage companies meet their goals for using recycled plastics because it allows for the recycling of any PET post-consumer waste, and can produce new PET plastic at quality levels that are approved for use with food and beverages.

More from IFT right arrow

Regulatory hurdles for cell-based meat; Fermented foods lower inflammation

News about food science research, food companies, food regulations, and consumer/marketplace trends

Saluting IFT Division Competition Winners

Hundreds of research papers were submitted to compete in 2021 IFT Division oral competitions. The first-, second-, and third-place winners are as follows.

SnapDNA is the 2021 IFTNEXT Food Disruptor

Rapid pathogen detection developer SnapDNA wins the 2021 IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge.

Lisa Dyson’s Mission to Make Air-Based Meat—and Why It Matters So Much

A question-and-answer interview with Lisa Dyson about Air Protein, climate change, food security and more.

Latest News right arrow

A low-carb diet may lower the risk of blinding eye disease

Following a long-term diet that’s low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein from vegetables may reduce the risk of the most common subtype of glaucoma, according to a study published in Eye-Nature.

FDA announces qualified health claim for cranberry products and urinary tract infections

The U.S. FDA has announced in a letter of enforcement discretion that it does not intend to object to the use of certain qualified health claims regarding consuming certain cranberry products and a reduced risk of recurrent urinary tract infection in healthy women.

Call to action for stronger, better-funded federal nutrition research

According to a group of research, policy, and government experts, the United States needs to strengthen and increase funding for federal nutrition research and improve cross-governmental coordination in order to accelerate discoveries, grow the economy, and—most importantly—improve public health, food/nutrition security, and population resilience.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines Committee recommends lowering added sugar consumption

The 2020 DGAC revisited the topic of added sugars and concluded that a more appropriate target to help mitigate cardiovascular disease and obesity is to lower the number to 6% of energy from added sugars for the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

USDA releases the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s final report

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) has posted the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s final scientific report, an objective review of the latest available science on specific nutrition topics.