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Renmatix, Virent cook up bio packaging partnership

By Jenni Spinner+


Demand for bio-based resin, such as those used in this Heinz PlantBottle, is on the rise.
Demand for bio-based resin, such as those used in this Heinz PlantBottle, is on the rise.

The two companies are joining forces to convert biomass into bio-based packaging materials.

Renmatix and Virent, companies with a history of developing and promoting sustainable materials, will work together to convert cost-effective cellulosic sugars into renewable chemicals and materials, including bio-based packaging.

Mike Hamilton, CEO of Renmatix, said booming demand for sustainable products is driving change and creativity along the supply chain.

Working with the right partners, like Virent, on the common goal of providing scalable solutions with affordable economics, we are pioneering the bio-based value chains that can meet those needs,” he said.

Natural selection

Plantrose is Renmatix’s platform to provide a sugar supply stream for Virent’s Bioforming process, intended for large-scale production of bio-based paraxylene. Paraxylne is used to manufacture purified terephtlalic acid (PTA), which is used to make plastic bottles and fibers from polyethylene terephtlalate (PET).

According to company representatives, bringing together local feedstock processing with on-site commercial production will help bring down costs. That, in turn will boost the viability of using renewable materials in biobased plastics and packaging.

The Plantrose process recently landed honors from ICIS as the Best Innovation by a small- to mid-size enterprise. The technology uses supercritical hydrolysis, rather than expensive chemical or enzymatic methods, to convert feedstocks into the building blocks for plastic packaging.

BioFormPx, Virent's bio-based paraxylene product, also landed ICIS recognition, for Best Innovation for Sustainability. Because the material is on a molecular level identical to petroleum-derived paraxylene, it can be recycled in conventional streams.

Commercial production

Virent’s technology has attracted the attention of several large-scale food and beverage brand owners. The Coca-Cola Co. uses the material in its sustainable PlantBottle containers.

According to Scott Vitters, general manager for the Plant Bottle with Coca-Cola, said the company is honed in on helping advance bio-plastic tech that can be scaled and sustained.

The potential of combining Renmatix's innovative cellulosic feedstock technology with Virent's bio-based paraxylene process offers a promising pathway for further realizing our PlantBottle packaging goals," he said.

The ICIS Innovation Awards are part of an annual program recognizing advancements in chemistry that show innovation, environmental advances and sustainability.