Pepsi intros new ‘natural’ plastic bottle

With mounting criticism of the plastics industry regarding the billions of plastic bags and bottles in the environment (see Please Conserve post dated March 11) and the massive amount of oil needed to make plastic, news that PepsiCo has created a “natural” plastic bottle was being lauded for its green potential.

Environmental and health reporters at various major media outlets revealed PepsiCo’s creation of a plastic bottle using 100 percent agricultural waste to create a top-quality bottle that could be placed back into the existing recycling system.

Officials in the Natural Resources Defense Council were going as far as to call it “the beginning of the end for petroleum-based plastic bottles.”

The revelation of a plant-based, fully renewable plastic bottle is also good news for those who have contended that the Bisphenol-A, or phthalates, in many plastic products, particularly baby bottles, may be behind the recent increase in autism cases.

Environmentalists are also hoping that the creation of this plastic bottle proves to be a method that could become widespread, eliminating the proliferation of “single-use” or “one-use” plastic items that cannot be recycled, such as the small spoons or forks used at a grocery store food sampling kiosk.

Reports indicate that the PepsiCo bottle is made from switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. Other materials, such as orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agriculture byproducts are earmarked for possible future use. This is a breakthrough for PepsiCo on many levels, since much of the agricultural waste that can be used would be byproducts of its other products such as Frito-Lay, Tropicana and Quaker.

Economic analysts view this as a win for the environment and a win for companies that embrace such methods, pointing out that Coca-Cola introduced a “PlantBottle” nearly two years ago, and a product with 30 percent plant material.

In creating the new bottle, PepsiCo officials proclaimed to have “cracked the code” in inventing a new form of plastic. It is believed that the key to this secret code process would be extracting cellulose from the waste, because cellulose is a basic building block of all plants and can be used to form the resin polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. With this process, Pepsi is saying its new bottle is identical to any other PET plastic bottle on a molecular level.

What the advancement of such a process could eventually mean in terms of saving oil supplies around the globe can only be speculation at this point.

Some conservationists are understandably cautious, insisting that the best course of action in reducing plastic bottles from showing up in landfills or in waterways is for consumers to cut down on their use – no matter how they are made.


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