Coca-Cola European partners back recycling startup CuRe to innovate pilot factory

NETHERLANDS – CuRe Technology, a recycling start-up, has secured backing from the Coca-Cola European Partners with a view to establishing an innovative pilot factory to turn waste plastic bottles back into high quality packaging for food and drink via a single, on-site process.

Announced via Coca-Cola European Partners’ innovation investment fund CCEP Ventures, the undisclosed investment sum is aimed at supporting the development and commercialisation of CuRe’s technology, with an ambition to build a pilot plastic bottle recycling plant in Western Europe.

Netherlands-based consortium CuRe Technology aims to initially apply its end-to-end “partial depolymerisation” recycling process to opaque and difficult to recycled food grade PET plastic, and claims its system is less energy and carbon intensive than other PET recycling processes.

CuRe Technology was set up by a consortium of Dutch recycling specialists led by Morssinkhof Group and DuFor/Cumapol Group, with strategic partners DSM-Niaga and the NHL Stenden University of Applied Science.

Once the technology is commercialised, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) said it would receive the majority of the recycled, food grade plastic from the new plant to support the soft drinks brand’s target to completely eliminate virgin oil-based PET plastic from its bottles within the next decade.

Joe Franses, vice president for sustainability at CCEP, described CuRe as an exciting technology start-up with transformational potential developed by an experienced consortium.

“Our investment in CuRe underlines our commitment to supporting innovations that have the potential to drive growth in our business and our sustainable packaging goals,” he added.

“It also offers us the potential to access vital rPET volumes that will help to accelerate delivery of our 100 per cent rPET ambition for our PET bottles.”

Around 4.3 million tonnes of food grade PET plastic is produced in the EU every year, of which less than a third – 1.4 million tonnes – is mechanically recycled, according to consultancy Eunomia.

CCEP estimates that using only recycled PET plastic for its Coca-Cola and other drinks brand bottles by 2030 could help remove a total of over 200,000 tonnes of virgin plastic from its packaging portfolio each year.

The start-up said its technology effectively acted as a ‘reset button’ to partially break-down plastic into its component building blocks to produce high quality rPET. Its long-term ambition for the technology is to upcycle all polyester waste streams including product to product rejuvenation of carpets and textiles.

Josse Kunst, chief commercial officer at CuRe Technology, described polyester as one of the world’s most reversible plastics and should not go to waste.

“In the pilot plant phase of the CuRe process, we were supported with a subsidy from the European Union and the three northern provinces of the Netherlands,” he explained.

“Now our ambition to create an energy-efficient solution for product-to-product polyester transformation will be accelerated because of this funding.”

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