- European scientists have created a prototype for a new bioplastic beverage packaging material derived from juice processing wastewater.
- The project, called PHBOTTLE, is made from a biodegradable bioplastic that uses a concentration of fermentable sugars found in juice processing wastewater for the feedstock.
- After researchers can optimize the production process, they believe the costs of PHBOTTLE and conventional plastic bottles could be comparable.
Technologies like PHBOTTLE could make it easier for more manufacturers to operate zero-waste and zero-water facilities, as has been a growing trend in recent years. Manufacturers can identify instances of waste and determine solutions for either how to reduce or eliminate the waste or how to reuse the waste for something else.
In the latter scenario, being able to repurpose waste created during processing could be an economic boost for the company in addition to improved sustainability.
If the manufacturer itself has no use for the waste product, it may be able to sell it to another company as an additional revenue stream. For example, AquaBotanical is a premium water brand created from the water removed from fruits and vegetables when they are condensed into concentrate, which is then purified. The steadier the waste production and the needs of the other company, the steadier that revenue stream will be.
Sustainable facilities are already a reality for many food and beverage companies. In 2014, Nestle transformed a dairy processing plant in Mexico into its first zero-water facility, wherein Nestle sourced all of the water needed to operate the plant by extracting it from the milk used to make dairy products. Last May, Nestle announced that it would also turn its Modesta, CA, dairy plant into a zero-water facility. Nestle has also converted 25 of its plants into zero waste to landfill facilities.