Partnership: CocaCola-YRD–CEIT: Sustainable Bio-Plastics

Catalyzing Positive Change by Building A Dynamic Local Supply Strategy and Leveraging the Carbon Cycle in Circular Design


The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) & Yangtze River Delta Circular Economy Institute of Technology (YRD – CEIT) EcoPartnership on Manufacturing Commercial Plastics from Agricultural Residues
Focus Areas: 
Implementation Plan: 

Concept: The aim of this partnership is to identify and advance commercial technologies for converting local agricultural residues or wastes (e.g., excess corn stover) into the base ingredients for manufacturing polyester resin/fiber.  The collaborative will explore the economic, environmental and social sustainability of various technologies and agricultural-based feedstock options.  Policies that help incentivize additional investment in renewable, plant-based plastics will also be explored.

Value Proposition: The Coca-Cola Company has a global goal to have 100% of the new PET plastic it uses in bottles contain PlantBottle packaging material by 2020.  The anticipated outcome from this partnership is that material used and converted into ingredients for making PlantBottle packaging in China will be from sustainably sourced local agricultural feedstocks.

Coca-Cola can bring the scale and customer commitment needed to catalyze local investment for making innovative bio-technology solutions for polyester plastics a commercial reality.  The technology has the potential to lower the carbon impact of polyester production, increase domestic energy independence, improve local air quality (by reducing agriculture residue burning), enhance farmer value and create additional jobs.  The anticipated outcome for the Yangtze River Delta Research Circular Economy Institute of Technology is to help facilitate this positive change and leverage the partnership to further promote the value of investing in a true circular economy.

China today is the largest global supplier of polyester for both resins and fibers with global demand predicted to continue growing an average of 7% per anum.  Helping to advance technologies that reduce the dependence of polyester on fossil-based materials and lower its carbon footprint can catalyze positive change far beyond a Coca-Cola bottle.  In fact, Coca-Cola is already partnering with companies like Ford, P&G, Heinz and Nike to extend the value potential of plant-based polyester in both China and the US.
Updates: A kick-off workshop was held in Beijing on November 18, 2013.  The objective of this meeting was to align around a roadmap for advancing a sustainable PlantBottle supply chain in China with key governmental and research partners under the EcoPartnership framework.  

Key conclusions from the workshop included: 1) that bio-waste, such as corn stover, rice/wheat straw and wood, make the most sense as potential feedstock sources in China; 2) that identifying an appropriate demo site and technology platform was a key next step; and 3) that policy support to advance this effort and enhance awareness around its national significance should be further considered.

New PlantBottle supply partnership with Ford Motor Company and forming BioPlastic Feedstock Alliance with WWF focused on the use of responsible feedstocks for bio-plastics. Further information is attached in PDFs.

Coca-Cola will end 2013 having launched over 18 billion PlantBottle packagesr across 28 countries…or the equivalent to removing over 170,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air.  We are making great progress and excited about future opportunities to create even greater positive change through the EcoPartnership.