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In a series of corporate commitments over the last year or more, Unilever has announced a partnership with start-up company Ioniqa and the largest global producer of PET resin Indorama Ventures. The aim of the partnership: to pioneer breakthrough food packaging technology, which, if successful, will convert PET waste back into virgin grade material for use in food packaging.

Ioniqa has already developed the proprietary technology, as noted by Unilever. The process entails conversion of any PET waste back into transparent virgin grade material. At the pilot stage of development, the technology has proven successful. Steps are now required to take testing to an industrial scale.

Ioniqa’s new technology takes non-recycled PET waste – like coloured bottles – and breaks it down to base molecule level, while separating the colour and other contaminants. The molecules are converted back into PET which is equal to virgin grade quality at Indorama’s facility.

The idea, as alluded above, is that if successful on an industrial scale, it would be possible to develop a closed-loop and therefore circular system for the supply of food packaging. This could very well lead to a significant transformation of industry practice, as the process could be repeated indefinitely.

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