Virent’s biobased paraxylene helps create prototype next-generation plant-based bottle
MADISON, Wisconsin, Oct. 18, 2021 – Virent Inc. has used its pioneering BioForming® technology to provide a critical component of Coca-Cola’s recently announced run of 900 plastic bottles made from 100% plant-based materials. Through this prototype, Virent’s biobased paraxylene, made from naturally occurring sugars, has the potential to contribute to Coca-Cola’s goal to use 3 million tons less virgin plastic from oil-based sources by 2025.
“We’re excited to be a part of Coca-Cola’s effort to develop sustainable, future-facing packaging solutions,” said Dave Kettner, president and general counsel of Virent. “This collaboration represents a milestone in the development of petroleum-free plastics and builds on our track record of producing demonstration-scale biobased chemical feedstocks for fabric, fiber and packaging applications.”
Virent’s proven catalytic chemistry converts sugars into biobased fuels and chemicals that are molecularly identical to those made from petroleum. Because they are made from plant-based feedstocks, these fuels and chemicals are reusing carbon already in the atmosphere, thereby reducing the products’ carbon intensities. Life cycle analysis studies for the commercial production of Virent’s bio paraxylene indicate up to a 75% reduction in carbon emissions compared to petroleum-based paraxylene, with the potential to achieve net-zero or better reductions in the future.
Even as plastic recycling increases, some “virgin quality” plastic will continue to be needed to maintain packaging quality, and Virent’s technology helps ensure this quality can be maintained sustainably. Because Virent’s biobased paraxylene is identical to that derived from petroleum, it is compatible with current industry infrastructure, can be recycled along with petroleum-based plastics, and requires no retrofitting or special equipment to handle.
“We have been working with partners to develop the right technologies to achieve 100% plant-based content, aiming for the lowest possible carbon footprint,” said Nancy Quan, Chief Technical and Innovation Officer at The Coca-Cola Company. “It’s exciting that we have reached a point where these technologies exist and can be commercially scaled.”
Virent uses its patented BioForming® technology to create the fuels and chemicals the world needs from a wide range of naturally occurring, renewable resources. Virent’s patented catalytic chemistry converts biobased carbohydrate feedstocks into products molecularly identical to those made from petroleum. Virent’s technology can produce a range of fuel products, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, as well as chemicals used for plastics, fibers and films. Virent is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation.