Synvina PEF bottle gets green light for recyclability

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

The PEF bottle. Picture: Synvina.
The PEF bottle. Picture: Synvina.

Related tags Recycling Polyethylene terephthalate Packaging

The European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP) has given interim approval for the recyclability of polyethylenefuranoate (PEF), produced by Synvina, a joint venture between BASF and Avantium.

Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) made from renewable resources is the main building block for PEF​, which enables food packaging, films and plastic bottles.

Thinner PEF packaging

PEF is a bio-based plastic with improved barrier properties for gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen which leads to a longer shelf life of packaged products.

With its recyclability, it has an advantage over bio-based plastics or barrier materials. It also has a higher mechanical strength, allowing for thinner PEF packaging.

It is suitable as the main component or as a barrier layer in cups, trays, flexible packaging, bottles for carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, water, dairy products, still and sports drinks and alcoholic beverages.

Following EPBP’s assessment PEF bottles are expected to be disposable through existing recovery systems the same way as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the conventional material for plastic bottles.

The interim approval applies to a PEF market penetration of up to 2%. This corresponds to the amount of PEF that could be produced from Synvina’s intended 50,000 tons reference plant for FDCA.

A final statement based on PEF quality, packaging designs and regional launch markets will be issued before market introduction of the novel material.

EPBP confirms consumers are expected to be able to return or dispose PEF bottles the way they are used to do with PET bottles. This is a major milestone for our innovative material based on renewables​,” said Patrick Schiffers, CEO, Synvina.

Besides Synvina and its shareholders BASF and Avantium, the partners in ‘PEFerence’ are:

  • Tereos Participations (France),
  • Alpla Werke Alwin Lehner & Co (Austria), OMV Machinery (Italy) and Croda Nederland (The Netherlands),
  • Nestec (Switzerland) and Lego System (Denmark),
  • Nova-Institut für politische und ökologische Innovation (Germany) and Spinverse Innovation Management (Finland).

Recyclability has become one of the most important aspects for the packaging industry to meet the standards of the circular economy​.”

Synvina is currently working with recyclers and brand owners to develop a recycling stream for PEF based bottles to separate PEF from conventional plastics.

US and Japan

PEF recycling in other markets like the US and Japan will be reviewed near-time.

The European Joint Undertaking on Bio-Based Industries (BBI), has granted €25m to ‘PEFerence’, a consortium of 11 companies, which supports the establishment of a value chain for bio-based raw materials as well as chemicals and materials based on polyethylenefuranoate (PEF).

It includes building a 50,000 ton FDCA reference plant, the main chemical building block for the production of PEF and the project will be overseen by Synvina.

BBI acknowledges the engagement of ‘PEFerence’ for more eco-friendly materials and end products, resulting in substantial benefits for the environment and society.

PEF bottles can be recycled and used again as raw material for bottles, as well as for packaging and textiles.

The grant of the BBI is a strong signal for Synvina and our partners along the value chain to continue our mutual process to make PEF commercially available​,” added Schiffers.

To open up a market for a new plastic based on renewable feedstock is a major challenge that we best meet with strong partners and our combined expertise​.

We share the common goal to get PEF commercially to the market thereby providing the market materials with superior properties and to establish sustainable and bio-based plastic value chains​.”

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