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PET project

Unilever has announced a partnership between its R&D Foods team, start-up company Ioniqa, a spin-off from the Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands, and the largest global producer of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) resin, Indorama Ventures, to pioneer a new technology, which converts PET waste back into virgin grade material for use in food packaging[1].

Ioniqa has developed a proprietary technology that is able to convert any PET waste – including coloured packs – back into transparent virgin grade material. The new process breaks the PET down to molecular level, while separating out the colour and other contaminants. The molecules are converted back into PET at Indorama’s facility producing a material that is equal to virgin grade quality.

The technology has successfully passed its pilot stage and is now moving towards testing at an industrial scale. If successful at industrial scale, in future it will be possible to convert all PET back into high quality, food-grade packaging. The three partnering companies believe that this fully circular solution could lead to an industry transformation, since the new technology can be repeated indefinitely.

PET is widely used to produce plastic packaging, yet worldwide only around 20% of this material makes its way to recycling plants with the rest eitherincinerated, disposed of in landfills or leaking into the natural environment.



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