Born from the powerful petrochemical fusion of monomers into polymers, plastic is one of the most ubiquitous and useful materials man has ever made. It’s also very hard to undo. Most plastics do not decompose easily or quickly, instead they require either intense pressure or intense heat to break them down—and that is not a viable option for recycling the vast quantity of waste plastic that is accumulating in our landfills and oceans. Every year another 350 million tons of new plastic is created but only a tiny percentage is ever recycled. It’s a problem that weighs heavily on the minds at evian.
Bottled at the heart of the French Alps, evian natural mineral water owes everything to nature. So, it’s little wonder that this global brand has been so determined to find an environmentally sound solution to plastic waste: and now they have it. It’s a solution that evian is so confident in that they have pledged to make all of their plastic bottles from 100% recycled plastic by 2025. This bold commitment is only possible because of evian’s partnership with Loop Industries, a small but spirited breakthrough tech company that has found a way to make the top-quality plastic resin for evian’s bottles without making any more plastic.
Daniel Solomita launched Loop Industries in 2015 because he was fascinated by waste plastic. His ambition was to take all of the world’s PET plastic—the most common kind of plastic used to make everything from bottles to carpets—and find a way to recycle it into a reusable plastic resin. Teaming up with a like-minded chemist, Solomita built an improvised lab in his garage and they began experimenting. Their goal was to break down the polymers in PET plastic into their basic ingredient of monomers without using heat or pressure. Where others failed, they succeeded.
Loop Industries discovered a unique catalyst that breaks down PET plastic with zero heat and zero pressure. The resulting monomers can then be re-polymerized into a new moldable plastic resin. Significantly, Loop Industries’ technology only targets the Polyethylene terephthalate that gives PET its name, so all the additives and impurities in the waste plastic can simply be filtered out: no other technology can currently remove colored dye from plastic. This zero energy depolymerization is what allows Loop Industries to do what nobody else can do—recycle any size, shape and color of PET plastic waste into virgin-quality PET plastic resin on an industrial scale.
The implications are enormous, and evian has been quick to realize the potential. Their research and development team moved into Loop Industries’ facilities and spent twenty months conducting rigorous tests that not only proved the science of Loop Industries’ method but also its commercial viability. Despite the complex chemistry involved in Loop’s top-secret catalyst, the rest of the process has been consciously kept simple so that it can be easily scaled up and deployed anywhere in the world. And that is what Loop Industries is doing for evian. By 2025 Loop Industries will have two European facilities supplying all the virgin-quality plastic resin that evian needs to make all of its bottles from 100% recycled plastic—meeting its 2025 commitment.
But for evian even this isn’t enough: they are actively encouraging other plastic reliant companies to make similar commitments. If enough other companies can be persuaded to use Loop Industries’ branded resin, then evian hopes to kick start a circular plastic economy. Making waste plastic useful gives it value, ensuring that more is collected for recycling and less leaks out into the environment. Fundamentally, it means that we don’t need to make more plastic, which is a massive leap towards sustainability. Guilt-free plastic is what everyone wants, and thanks to evian’s partnership with Loop Industries it could fast become a reality.
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