Loop Industries, Inc., the Terrebonne, Canada-based waste and recycling technology company, has partnered with Evian, the Paris-based global spring water brand, to create all of Evian’s plastic bottles out of 100 percent recycled plastic by 2025.
Loop’s depolymerization technology allows for low value and no value waste such as carpets and clothing to be upcycled into high value consumer goods packaging such as water bottles. “Our feedstock does not need to be washed or prepared in any way, so that’s what differentiates us from the recycling industry,” says Daniel Solomita, founder and CEO of Loop.
Evian is adopting a “circular approach” to plastic usage and plans to achieve this through pioneering partnerships to redesign its packaging, accelerate recycling initiatives and seek zero plastic bottle waste. Loop Industries will provide the 100 percent recycled PET (rPET) plastic for use in the company’s packaging.
“A circular economy is taking something and reusing it for what it used to be or a higher value,” says Solomita. “We take that plastic, break it down into its base ingredients and then build them back up to make brand new plastic.”
The patented depolymerization technology breaks down waste plastic into its monomers, Dimethyl Terephthalate (DMT) and Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG), without heat or pressure. The monomers are purified, removing all solid waste, coloring, additives and organic or inorganic impurities. Then, DMT and MEG are repolymerized into Loop-branded PET plastic.
“The analogy I use is starting with a chocolate cake. You take that chocolate cake and break it down into its base ingredients—the egg, flour, sugar and chocolate. You purify each one of those—take that egg and put it back into its shell and put the chocolate back into its wrapper—and then you take the ingredients and build a brand new cake. [Our technology] can do that an unlimited number of times,” says Solomita.
Loop’s announcement was the result of 18 months of collaboration with Evian and the research and development and purchasing teams of Loop’s parent company, Danone. In order to secure agreements, the technology and production process needed to be qualified and vetted by major brands.
“Rooted in its pioneering spirit and long-lasting commitment toward sustainability, Evian will drive a step change to address the critical issue of plastic. We want to use the power of our global brand to take a leadership position, drive collaboration across the industry and, together with partners, transform our approach to plastic,” said Patricia Oliva, global brand director for Evian, in a statement.
Solomita says that in addition to Evian, Loop has a lot of partners that are looking for help on both the customer side and the waste side.
“We work with a lot of the large waste management companies that have this plastic in their system, especially the colored and opaque plastics that nobody can recycle,” he says. “For opaque PET plastic like shampoo or soap bottles, there’s no technology that can recycle the opaque PET bottles except for us. When we break it down, we remove all the titanium dioxide and coloring and everything that’s in there and transform that back into food-grade plastic.”
The company also is working with brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, L’Oreal and Stella McCartney on the fashion side.
“A lot of the fashion companies and fiber companies are looking for someone to recycle their material,” says Solomita. “There’s no technology out there that can recycle an old polyester sweater unless you stitch it up and fix it up, but our technology can take an old polyester sweater and turn that into a water bottle for Evian.”
In the current pilot phase, Loop can treat one ton of waste plastic per day.
“2018 is all about commercialization. We have plans to set up manufacturing facilities in North America and in Europe,” says Solomita. “By 2020-2021, we will have multiple manufacturing facilities running around the world to satisfy our customers’ needs.”