The Coca-Cola Co. is making impressive environmental improvements in its bottles. As reported here, Coke is the first company to introduce a beverage bottle made with recycled plastic. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola opened the world’s largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, SC. Now Coke has announced the “PlantBottle”, which is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent plant-based materials. The feedstock, presumably ethylene glycol via glucose, is made from sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production. Coca-Cola said it is also exploring the use of other plant materials for future generations of the bottle. A life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London indicates the “PlantBottle” with 30 percent plant-base material reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent, compared with petroleum-based PET.
Another advantage to the “PlantBottle” is that, unlike other plant-based plastics, it can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET. Coca-Cola North America will pilot the “PlantBottle” with Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets later this year and with vitaminwater in 2010
“The ‘PlantBottle’ represents the next step in evolving our system toward the bottle of the future,” said Scott Vitters, director of Sustainable Packaging of Coca-Cola. “This innovation is a real win because it moves us closer to our vision of zero waste with a material that lessens our carbon footprint and is also recyclable.”
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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