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The TU/e spin-off Ioniqa has partnered with Unilever, as announced this afternoon. The cooperation also involves a third party, Indorama Ventures, the world’s largest PET producer. Together, the three parties want to take a pioneering role in the development of a new technology to convert PET waste into raw materials.

Ioniqa’s technology breaks PET down to its base molecule, removing colour and other contaminants. The molecules are then converted back into pure plastic raw materials at the Indorama factory. If the industrial-scale tests yield good results, all plastic can be reused in the future for the production of high-quality food packaging. The three cooperating companies consider that this fully circular solution can bring about an industrial transformation, as the new technology can be applied endlessly.

In 2017 Unilever committed itself to having all its plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Chief R&D Officer David Blanchard states that Unilever is proud of the contribution it can make to a new sustainable packaging solution. “We want to move away from the take-make-dispose model we currently live in and strive to only create packaging that fits into a circular world. This innovation is particularly special as it provides a solution to one of the biggest challenges of today: making all types of recycled plastic suitable for food packaging. After all, making the PET stream fully circular would be a major milestone in fulfilling this ambition. It would not only benefit Unilever; it would transform the whole industry.”

Tonnis Hooghoudt, founder and CEO of Ioniqa, adds to that: “We look forward to working with partners such as Unilever and Indorama Ventures to scale up our unique PET plastic solution. Through our collaboration, Ioniqa’s innovative technology can effectively transform PET waste into a circular material that retains its value after use by consumers. With our technology, we are helping to create a cleaner world.”