NEW YORK – PepsiCo unveiled a revolutionary bottle earlier this week, the world’s first petroleum-free plastic bottle — an effort to reduce the company’s carbon footprint while answering environmentalist critics, the Financial Times reports.
PepsiCo said it is using raw materials including switchgrass, pine bark and corn husks to produce the new bottle, converting the materials into polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the plastic material used to make the majority of bottles.
The quest for a petroleum-free bottle began in earnest in 2009 when Coca-Cola unveiled a bottle that was 30 percent plant-based. Environmentalists have been sharply critical of petroleum-based plastic because of high carbon emissions and because it is slow to biodegrade.
Traditional plastic bottles are produced using approximately 17 million barrels of oil each year, according to a 2006 report from the Pacific Institute.
Pepsi said it would begin a trial period with the new bottles next year before launching a more expansive rollout.
The company said the cost of producing the new bottle is similar to producing the petroleum-based plastic version, but at a significant savings to the environment. “The bottle itself has no carbon footprint,” said Rocco Papalia, senior vice president of advanced research at Pepsi.
Pepsi said the new bottle will eventually allow it to take byproducts from its other businesses — potato peels and orange peels, for instance — and turn them into bottles.