Tag Archives: PET plastic

Bacteria Strain

Bacteria Strain that Biodegrades Polyethylene

Most people understand standard plastics to be resistant to the biodegradation process, but did you know that research from back in 2005 isolated a microbial strain called Brevibacillus borstelensis that is capable of utilizing polyethylene as the sole carbon and energy source?

So what does all that mean and how did they do this?

Soil taken from a polyolefin waste disposal site was used to isolate the bacteria strain that had adapted to its environment and energy source to be able to secrete the enzymes needed to utilize the carbon within the polyethylene chemical chain.  From the research there were a few BIG discoveries with one being that Brevibacillus borstelensis was able to use the carbon found in polyethylene as the sole source of energy.  This is important because we typically find that microbes will develop where there are easily accessible sources of energy.  This is the reason traditional plastics take so long to biodegrade, the carbon is too difficult to utilize by microbes resulting in plastics lasting for hundreds of years in the environment.  We now know of a microbe that is indifferent in using the carbon from polyethylene plastic or from other sources.

This research has opened the door to better understanding the adaptive nature of those microscopic creatures we share the planet with.  Although we can’t see them, they outnumber the human inhabitants by a factor of many trillions of them to each one of us.  They have also had millions of years more time on the earth than us humans have, and are instrumental in the cleaning process of creating a healthy viable planet.  There is a lot we can and will continue to learn about the tiniest creatures we call microbes.

To read the full paper: Biodegradation of polyethylene by the thermophilic bacterium Brevibacillus borstelensis


Cheese Plastic…No, We are Serious.

Well this is new, I have heard of corn plastics…but now Cheese plastics? This is quite interesting, if they are using products that would be waste I find that  quite resourceful. Please let me know what you think about this new technology! At ENSO were all about innovative technology that will make a difference and is good for the earth.

Is Cheese the Next Sustainable Packaging Solution?


Cheese makes a tasty addition to any meal, but did you ever guess it could be used for packaging?

Researchers say that a biodegradable plastic made from cheese byproducts could reduce the need for synthetic packaging and keep useful materials out of the landfill.

The bioplastic made from whey protein is the result of the three-year WheyLayer project, a European Commission-funded research and development project in Spain’s Catalonia region that aims to solve a common packaging woe.

In the food industry, oxidation of oils, fats and other components can lead to unpleasant colors and flavors. So, keeping oxygen out of packaged food is essential.

SEE: 5 Absurdly Over-Packaged Foods

Plastics like PE (polyethylene) and PP (polypropylene) are excellent moisture-blockers, but to keep out oxygen, they must be coated with expensive synthetic polymers.

Most of these polymers – such as EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol polymer) and PVDC (polyvinylidene chloride polymer) – are petroleum-based and extremely difficult to reuse, as it is almost impossible to separate each layer for individual recycling.

Whey, the milk protein byproduct of cheese production, provides similar oxygen-blocking properties, but it’s much cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

The new packaging – developed by Barcelona-based research company IRIS – replaces synthetics with whey protein-coated plastic fibers, which could save loads of money and make packaging more readily recyclable.

After packaging is used, whey protein can be chemically or enzymatically removed, and underlying plastic can be easily recycled or reused to make new packaging.


In addition to saving money and raw materials, the new application could also keep millions of tons of whey out of European landfills. Each year, European cheese factories produce 50 million tons of whey. Some of it is reused as food additives, but almost 40 percent is thrown away.

Discarded whey collected from cheese producers can be filtered and dried to extract the pure whey protein, which can be used in several thin layers to create a plastic film for use in food packaging.

While the packaging is subject to patent applications, researchers expect it to appear in consumer products within a year. The bioplastic is expected to be used for cosmetics packaging first, and food packaging applications will follow.

The technology will likely be used in the European market at first. But many companies from around the globe showed interest in the packaging when researchers took it to the Interpack international trade fair for packaging and processes back in May.

Heinz Ketchup joins team plant bottle?

So I saw an official Heinz ketchup plant bottle yesterday and I felt good and bad about it. Using renewable sources is awesome don’t get me wrong, but it still does not solve the problem of plastic waste in landfills and in nature! Only 5% of plastics get recycled and the rest end up as waste. While going renewable with the Heinz bottle is a great step forward, many consumers are completely oblivious to what the “plant” bottle is. A grad student from Florida conducted a survey asking random consumers questions regarding the plant bottle. 50% of the participants believed that plant bottles are biodegradable. 68% of the participants believe that PET plant based beverage bottles are better than traditional PET plastic bottles because they are biodegradable.  From the results of the survey it is clear that these average consumers are confused of the capabilities of plant based bottles.  Let me know what you think of the new bottles in the comment box below!

Heinz to Use Plant-Based Bottles Made by Coca-Cola

by Jessica Dailey, 02/24/11
Starting this summer, Heinz will be bottling its famous ketchup in more earth-friendly packaging. Yesterday, the company announced that it plans to use plant-based bottles developed by Coke — aptly named “PlantBottles” — for all of its 20 oz. ketchup bottles. The plastic bottles consist of 30 percent plant material, and are made with a Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, which results in a lower reliance on unsustainable resources as compared with traditional PET bottles.The switch is the biggest change that Heinz has introduced to their ketchup bottle since first using plastic containers in 1983. There will be no difference in shelf life, weight, or appearance, except talking labels asking, “Guess what my bottle is made of?” Heinz says that the switch to more eco-friendly bottles is a vital step in reducing the company’s greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste, water consumption and energy usage by at least 20 percent by 2015. 

When Coke first introduced PlantBottles in 2009, an initial life-cycle analysis by the Imperial College London showed that the bottle had a 12 to 19 percent reduction in carbon impact. Coca-Cola said that last year, PlantBottles eliminated the equivalent of 30,000 metric tons of CO2.

Both Coca-Cola and Heinz are working to reduce their carbon footprints. Coca-Cola recently released an updated sustainability plan, and the company plans to replace all regular plastic packaging with PlantBottles by 2020. Last October, Heinz reported that the company cut CO2 emissions by 17,000 tons since 2006 at three of its UK factories. Heinz also received an “A” grade from Green Century Capital Management and As You Sow for using BPA-free linings from some of its canned products, and creating a timeline to completely eliminate the chemical from all packaging.

Here’s hoping Heinz will create a similar timeline for replacing all plastic packaging with PlantBottles!


The negative environmental impact of plastics are widely known and understood, so here at Inhabitat, we applaud any step away from them. While PlantBottles are not a perfect solution, they still help eliminate CO2 emissions and mitigate global warming.

Via Environmental Leader


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Ocean Plastic Pollution

Marine life can mistake pieces of plastic for food.

Imagine you’re sailing the waters between Hawaii and California. The sun is at your back, the wind is in your hair, and there’s a giant pool of plastic garbage larger than the state of Texas in front of you.

Meet the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an enormous mess of plastic and other litter swirling around in a system of rotating ocean currents called the North Pacific Gyre. Not only is the Patch incredibly damaging to the environment, but it could also be permanent unless we reform plastic production around the globe.

See, the world produces around 300 billion pounds of plastic every year, and the Clean Air Council reports that Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Only a fraction of all this plastic is recycled, with the majority ending up in landfills. Sadly, some is also dumped illegally into our oceans by various civilian, military, cruise and merchant ships, and by other means.

The problem with traditional plastics in oceans is the same problem with traditional plastics in landfills — they could last there for hundreds or thousands of years. The sun, saltwater, currents and other elements aren’t enough to break down objects like PET plastic water bottles; the plastic will only disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces that never fully decompose into biomass and bio-gases. Marine life can mistake these small pieces of plastic for food, eat them and become poisoned. And even if the plastic isn’t ingested, it still leaches toxic chemicals that, once released, are very harmful and impossible to collect and remove.

A traditional PET plastic bottle could last for hundreds or thousands of years in the ocean.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 90 percent plastic, making it the ultimate example of the negative impact plastic has on our oceans. And it and other areas like it (yes, there are more) will continue to endanger plant and animal life unless manufacturers begin producing plastics that can biodegrade into safer components.

One thing that could prove crucial to this battle is the presence of oceanic microbes like bacteria and fungi. Bottle developer ENSO Bottles has designed a form of PET plastic with organic compounds in its molecular structure — nutrients that the microbes find irresistible. These microorganisms eat away at the plastic, breaking it down into non-harmful matter in a process that typically lasts between one and five years. A traditional PET plastic bottle, on the other hand, could potentially take hundreds or thousands of years.

Where our oceans are concerned, this new biodegradable PET plastic could mean the difference between a giant floating patch of plastic the size of Texas … and cleaner oceans for generations yet to come. Which version of the future will you choose to support?

For more information about the technology ENSO Bottles uses, visit ensobottles.com.

To learn more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the effort to eradicate it, visit tedxgreatpacificgarbagepatch.com.

The wobbly “truth” about the success of plastic recycling

According to the 2009 Report on Post Consumer PET Container Recycling Activity, recycling increased 28% in the US for the 6th consecutive year.

This statistic was touted in the news as an ever-growing commitment by consumers across the country to recycling efforts. But all is not what it seems.

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Are PET Bottles Safe?

NAPCOR Reassures on PET Safety with Answers to Common Concerns

Sonoma, CA, September 25, 2007 – PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles have garnered a great deal of media attention recently, some of it raising questions about PET safety. According to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), the trade group for PET packaging, it’s time to clear up any fallacies and set the record straight: Consumers can continue to rely on the safety of PET bottles.

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Fun Facts About PET

  • The PET bottle was patented in 1973 by chemist Nathaniel Wyeth (brother of distinguished American painter Andrew Wyeth).


  • The first PET bottle was recycled in 1977.


  • An estimated 9,400 curbside collection programs and 10,000 drop-off programs collect PET plastic in the United States, currently.


  • Approximate number of PET beverage bottles per pound:
    16 oz. — 18 bottles per pound
    20 oz. — 16 bottles per pound
    1 liter — 12 bottles per pound
    2 liter — 9 bottles per pound
    3 liter — 5 bottles per pound


  • Cubic yards conserved in a landfill by recycling PET beverage bottles:
    4,800 recycled 16-ounce bottles saves a cubic yard
    4,050 recycled 20-ounce bottles saves a cubic yard
    3,240 recycled 1-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
    2,430 recycled 2-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
    1,350 recycled 3-liter bottles saves a cubic yard


  • Since 1978, manufacturers have reduced the weight of a two-liter bottle by about 29%, from 68 grams to 48 grams.


  • Recycling a ton of PET containers saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.


  • According to the EPA, recycling a pound of PET saves approximately 12,000 BTU’s.


  • The average household generated 42 pounds of PET plastic bottles in the year 2005.


  • Custom bottles (which are bottles used for products other than carbonated soft drinks) represent 62% of all PET bottles available for recycling.


  • Fourteen 20 oz. PET bottles yield enough fiber for an extra large T-shirt.


  • It takes 14 20 oz. PET bottles to make one square foot of carpet.


  • It takes 63 20 oz. PET bottles to make a sweater.


  • Fourteen 20 oz. PET bottles yield enough fiberfill for a ski jacket.


  • It takes 85 20 oz. PET bottles to make enough fiberfill for a sleeping bag.


Used from NAPOR website.


What is PET plastic?

NAPCOR Reassures on PET Safety with Answers to Common Concerns

Sonoma, CA, September 25, 2007 – PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles have garnered a great deal of media attention recently, some of it raising questions about PET safety. According to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), the trade group for PET packaging, it’s time to clear up any fallacies and set the record straight: Consumers can continue to rely on the safety of PET bottles.

Continue reading