Discarded plastic bottles piling up in landfills or ending as unsightly litter is one of the beverage industry’s worst public relations nightmares, so a new joint venture promising to introduce biodegradable plastic preforms and bottles could not have come a moment too soon.
Announced last month, the strategic partnership between the Planet Green Bottle Corporation (PGBC) of Toronto and the Lincoln, Ne.-based beverage line equipment and supplies manufacturer Norland International is expected to speed up the commercialization of the breakthrough Reverte additive—developed by the U.K.-based Wells Plastic Ltd.—boasting proprietary oxo-biodegradable technology that can naturally break down PET (polyethylene terephthalate) water bottles into CO2 and moisture within five to 10 years, without requiring specialized industrial composting facilities.
Formulated for two-year shelf-life, the Reverte additive triggers an accelerated microbial degradation process by UV light, heat and moisture regardless of location—including in landfills, ditches, rivers and oceans—and does not cause any contamination within the municipal plastic recycling streams, without compromising the containers’ clarity or tensile strength.
“The Reverte-enhanced oxo-biodegradable bottles give us the best of both worlds,” says Norland International vice-president Bruce Kucera. “We need to be better stewards of our resources and these oxo-biodegradable bottles, which are also recycling-friendly, will come a long way in assisting us in attaining that goal.”
While there is currently no consensus on how long it takes for a standard PET bottles to decompose, many experts claim that it could take up to 1,000 years or more.
Kucera says that while recycling is still the preferred option for disposing of used PET containers, the Reverte-treated bottles will offer an effective insurance policy for those bottles that don’t make it into the recycling chain.
According to industry sources, approximately 60 billion PET plastic beverage bottles are discarded in the U.S. annually.
“Ten years ago, if those bottles had contained oxo-biodegradable technology there is a good chance they may have already degraded,” Kucera states. “Unfortunately, we can now expect these bottles to be in our environment for as many as 1,000 years.
“Industry sources tell us only about 23 per cent of all PET bottles are recycled, leaving 77 per cent to go to landfills or just tossed out. That’s why it’s so important that the bottled water and beverage industry moves quickly to adopt Reverte technology in their oxo-biodegradable bottles, and why Norland International has gotten involved with this technology early on.”