NETHERLANDS – Unilever has partnered with Ioniqa, a high-tech chemical company and producer of PET resin Indorama Ventures to develop a technology that would allow recycling of plastic waste into virgin grade material for the food industry.

The technology, pioneered by Ioniqa, is able to convert any PET waste – including coloured packs back into transparent virgin grade material.

The partnership involves collaboration between Unilever, Ioniqa, Indorama and Eindhoven University of Technology to enhance PET recycling rather than directing it into landfill or environment.

The technology has successfully passed its pilot stage and is now moving towards testing at an industrial scale.

Unilever says upon successful prove at industrial scale, the technology will allow 100% recycling of PET into high quality, food-grade packaging, having seen only 20% of plastic waste into recycling worldwide.

“We want all of our packaging to be fit for a world that is circular by design, stepping away from the take-make-dispose model that we currently live in.

This innovation is particularly exciting because it could unlock one of the major barriers today – making all forms of recycled PET suitable for food packaging.

Indeed, making the PET stream fully circular would be a major milestone towards this ambition, not just helping Unilever, but transforming industry at large,” said David Blanchard, Unilever Chief R&D Officer.

Indorama Ventures produces fibres and yarns from polyester and polyolefins, besides producing PET resins for beverage, food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics packaging.

With the partnership, it seeks to be a world-class chemical company with regard to sustainable production through waste management.

According to Tonnis Hooghoudt, Founder and CEO of Ioniqa, the collaboration was vital in turning PET waste into a circular material while creating value for customers and the planet.

The sustainable packaging innovation complements a commitment it made in 2017 to make all of its plastic packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The company announced that it had achieved its target to achieve zero waste including non-hazardous waste into landfill across its global factory network of 242 factories in 67 countries.