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Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, has taken an important step on its journey towards 100 % rPET for its plastic bottles by funding CuRe Technology – a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste.

The funding from CCEP, through its innovation investment fund, CCEP Ventures, will enable CuRe to accelerate its ‘polyester rejuvenation’ technology from pilot plant to commercial readiness. Once the technology is commercialised, CCEP will receive the majority of the output from a CuRe-licensed, new-build plant.

Once operational, CuRe has the potential to support CCEP’s ambition, in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company in Western Europe, to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade. This will contribute to removing of a total of over 200,000* tonnes of virgin oil-based PET from CCEP’s packaging portfolio a year and support the transition to a circular economy for PET packaging.

CuRe Technology – a start-up, created and led by a consortium of world-leading recycling innovators and experts led by the Morssinkhof Group and the Cumapol/DuFor Group, with strategic partners DSM-Niaga and NHL Stenden University of Applied Science – will initially apply its end-to-end partial depolymerisation recycling process to transform opaque and difficult to recycle (ODR) food grade PET to high quality recycled PET (rPET) that can be used again for food and drink packaging in one continuous process on the same site.

Towards a Circular Economy

The CuRe funding from CCEP Ventures builds on existing strategic investments by The Coca-Cola Company to explore and support the scaling of ‘enhanced’ full depolymerisation recycling technologies in order to make a circular economy for PET a reality.

Depolymerisation recycling technologies complement existing mechanical polymer recycling processes. They have the potential to upcycle lower grade PET that cannot currently be recycled via mechanical recycling means and is instead currently downcycled, incinerated or sent to landfill. These depolymerisation technologies could play a role in significantly increasing the supply of rPET whilst also accelerating the transition to a circular economy for PET bottles by reducing the reliance on virgin oil-based PET.

The Coca-Cola system in Western Europe is working towards a future source vision for its PET material which will help remove the need for virgin oil-based PET (figurative future sources of PET in Western Europe: 70 % derived from mechanical recycling with 25 % from depolyemrisation recycling and 5 % PET from plant-based renewable sources, all while remaining 100 % recyclable*).

About CuRe Technology

CuRe Technology uses a partial depolymerisation process – shortening the polymer chains just enough to allow the removal of many impurities and to rejuvenate food grade PET to high quality rPET – and can be less energy intensive than full depolymerisation offering lower associated C02 emissions. It’s like pressing a ‘reset’ button to partially break down plastic PET into its component building blocks to produce a high quality rPET. Due to the modularity of the process, the longer term ambition for this technology is to upcycle all polyester waste streams including product to product rejuvenation of carpets and textiles.

Joe Franses, Vice President, Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners said: “CuRe is an exciting technology start-up with transformational potential developed by an experienced consortium, making it an ideal investment for CCEP Ventures. Our investment in CuRe underlines our commitment to supporting innovations that have the potential to drive growth in our business and our sustainable packaging goals. It also offers us the potential to access vital rPET volume that will help to accelerate delivery of our 100% rPET ambition for our PET bottles.”

As part of their joint Sustainability Action Plan, This is Forward, Coca-Cola European Partners and Coca-Cola in Western Europe have pledged that by 2025, Coca-Cola will: collect a can or bottle for every one it sells and ensure that all its packaging is 100 % recyclable and by 2023 will: ensure that at least 50 % of the content of its PET bottles will come from recycled content, accelerating towards its ambition to use zero oil-based PET in its PET bottles in the future, using instead 100 % recycled or renewable content.

Josse Kunst, Chief Commercial Officer at CuRe Technology said: “Polyester is one of the world’s most reversible plastics and should not go to waste. In the pilot plant phase of the CuRe process, we were supported with a subsidy from the European Union and the three northern provinces of the Netherlands. Now our ambition to create an energy-efficient solution for product to product polyester transformation will be accelerated because of this funding.

The support of CCEP Ventures will enable us to start with opaque and difficult to recycle food grade PET and take the first step towards our ultimate vision of recycling all polyester, again and again.”

*By 2019, CCEP was already using 60,000 tonnes of rPET in its bottle and has committed to using 50% rPET by 2023.

The KHS Group has invested €20 million in modernizing its headquarters on Juchostraße in Dortmund, Germany. In a bundle of measures underway since 2015 the company has built a huge, approximately 4,300-m2 production shop and fully renovated another. As one of the world’s leading providers of filling and packaging systems for the beverage industry KHS is thus ensuring that it stays competitive in the long term.

The last construction machines will disappear in the spring, marking the end of the extensive process optimization and other measures at the KHS production site in Dortmund. According to plant manager Dr. Joachim Konrad these were absolutely essential to strengthen KHS’ competitiveness. “As a company active worldwide we find ourselves in a competitive situation and want to carry on manufacturing in Germany. We’ve therefore further digitalized and automated our infrastructure and processes in Production.”

Here, key elements of the modernization included extending the production area and renewing the machine park. At its production site on Juchostraße KHS has erected a completely new production shop. In an area measuring 4,300 square meters the systems supplier has now created conditions that enable the relevant technology for container and pack conveyors to be merged and order processing to become more efficient. KHS has also modernized one of the oldest production buildings on the company premises. With an investment volume of six million euros for this project alone the engineering company has not only renewed the shop floor and roof; it also optimized its Sheet Metal Manufacturing Department housed in the hall, incorporating new technology that includes a faster, more efficient fiber laser, a combined punching/laser machine and a larger, fully networked sheet metal warehouse.

This yields many benefits for KHS customers in the beverage industry, among them leading brands from around the globe. “Demands are becoming more complex. Like when you configure a new car nowadays, we can customize our filling and packaging systems to suit the precise requirements of the respective customer,” states Konrad. “We cater for the huge individualism of each customer with our cleverly compiled, standardized product modules that allow systems to be designed and constructed in automated processes.” Production sequences have again been considerably simplified during the course of numerous optimization measures.

Strong signal to the regional economy

Local employees also profit from the site’s extensive modernization. KHS has now renewed the factory canteen and various office complexes, including the workstations in various company departments. With around 1,200 personnel the company in Dortmund manufactures machines for labeling, pasteurization and bottle washing, among other equipment, plus container conveyor technology for industrial beverage production.

For KHS, the modernization is a big commitment to the production facilities on Juchostraße, says Konrad. “The Dortmund plant is extremely important to the KHS Group, also because of its standing as our international company headquarters. With our investments we’re making it fit for the future. This sends out a strong signal to the regional economy.”

KHS also aims to make local commitments above and beyond this. The enterprise is helping to devise a Science 2.0 master plan that the Dortmund council adopted in November of last year. In the field of production technology KHS is engaged in an exchange of expertise together with representatives from other companies and the TU Dortmund. “We’re pleased to be doing our bit for a strong regional economy and can apply our practical experience in this area. As a large industrial employer we also benefit from well-trained specialist workers,” Konrad concludes.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) will invest over EUR 500 million in 2019, as part of an ongoing multi-year EUR 1.5 billion investment programme.

The announcement was made at CAGNY Conference for investors in Miami. The programme focuses on delivering more for our customers by investing in new technology, supply chain capabilities and coolers.

Damian Gammell, Chief Executive Officer at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “We’re investing in key areas of the business to make it easier for customers to do business with us, and to offer consumers a wider range of great products. Last year our targeted investment programme helped to create EUR 8.7 billion in value for customers – nearly EUR 600 million more than 2017.”

Next generation digital solutions

Making it easier for customers to do business with us by developing and investing in new digital solutions. Highlights include:

  • Mobile sales tools which not only improve the customer experience but also increase productivity and optimise sell time
  • New business analytics capabilities to improve promotions and forecasting with customers
  • Expanding digital services for customers, such as Kollex, a recently established digital joint venture for the beverage wholesale trade and the away-from-home market in Germany

Boosting capabilities across our supply chain

Increasing capacity and capabilities to service our customers quickly and easily, and support our growing portfolio of drinks sustainably. Highlights include:

  • New manufacturing lines in Halle, Mannheim, Barcelona, Seville, Ghent and Wakefield to provide consumers with a greater choice of products and packs
  • Increasing the amount of recycled plastic in our products, such as the ongoing work with Ioniqa to transform hard to recycle plastic waste into high quality, food-grade PET
  • Increasing capacity for refillable glass bottles and trialling new routes to market, such as our new partnership with Loop and Carrefour in France for returnable and refillable glass

Increasing product availability

Expand cold drink equipment, making it easier for consumers to find our drinks on the go. Highlights include:

  • Placing 69,000 more coolers in customers’ outlets in 2019
  • Better outlet targeting and segmentation through an expanded range of cooler sizes and types

CCEP Ventures

At CAGNY Conference, CCEP also announced the creation of an innovation investment programme.

The programme – CCEP Ventures – will focus solutions across customer experience and support, logistics and distribution, future packaging design and technology, prediction and pricing analytics

On the launch of CCEP Ventures, Mr Gammell said: “Our business faces future disruptive trends that need innovative solutions and we need to adapt and learn quickly. CCEP Ventures will help us bring the best minds and ideas from the outside world into our business. It will help us find, fund and foster new solutions and scale with speed.”

Cargill has the intention to invest $150 million to construct an HM pectin production facility in South America. HM pectin is a versatile, citrus fruit-based texturizer used for jams, beverages/juices, acid dairy drinks and confectionery.

Bruce McGoogan, strategy and innovation leader for Cargill starches, sweeteners and texturizers business said, “The pectin market has seen a strong growth for several years, primarily driven by the acid dairy drink market, as well as the growing global consumer demand for label-friendly ingredients. HM pectin plays a significant role in delivering on both trends—as it is a plant-based texturizer designed for acid dairy drinks as well as for jams, beverages and confectionery products. The intention to invest in a plant in Brazil, which has an abundant citrus fruit supply, allows Cargill to deliver the pectin our customers need and consumers demand.”

The intended project is part of a comprehensive plan to strengthen Cargill’s full pectin footprint, including improvements to its existing three plants in Europe (Germany, France and Italy) and adding a new plant in Brazil to take advantage of local resources.

“Adding an industry-leading pectin asset in Brazil will complement Cargill’s existing European network and create the capacity to serve our customers around the globe with premium pectin ingredients,” said Laerte Moraes, managing director of Cargill’s starches, sweeteners and texturizers business in South America. “The intended investments also illustrate Cargill’s commitment to its employees and the economies in both Europe and Brazil through job growth and financial contributions. The intention is to start construction early 2019.”