Originally Published on May 7th, 2020 for GreenBiz.
That little recycling symbol on the bottom of a soda or shampoo bottle has a dirty secret. There’s only a 30 percent chance the PET plastic in the bottle will get turned into a new plastic product, and the chance it will become another soda or shampoo bottle is almost zero.
The French startup, Carbios, hopes to change that with a new enzyme — one that could usher in an entirely new way to recycle plastic, one that actually lives up to the arrows of the symbol.
As packaging professionals are well aware, most current recycling technology, which is thermo-mechanical in nature, reuses plastic by melting it and then reforming it into new products. But the process weakens the plastic and can cause aesthetic impurities in the material. What’s more, the plastic gets discolored, which can be unattractive to customers.
In the end, most plastic isn’t recycled, so much as it is downcycled. The reality is that soda bottle never will be a soda bottle again but instead it might be used in carpets and polyester textiles.
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