Unilever has partnered with start-up Ioniqa and PET resin producer Indorama Ventures (Indorama) to trial a new technology that transforms PET waste into virgin grade material to be used in food packaging.

Ioniqa, a clean-tech spinoff from the Netherlands Eindhoven University of Technology, recently developed its own technology to convert any PET waste back into transparent virgin grade material.

This technology has reportedly passed its pilot stage and is to be tested on an industrial scale.

If successful, it will be used to transform all PET back into high-quality, food-grade packaging.

“Ioniqa’s technology can turn PET waste into a truly circular material.”

Ioniqa founder and CEO Tonnis Hooghoudt said: “To scale up our unique solution for PET plastics, we are delighted to work together with partners like Unilever and Indorama Ventures.

“Through our collaboration, Ioniqa’s innovative technology can turn PET waste into a truly circular material, which holds value after disposal by consumers, helping to clean up the planet.”

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The three companies claim the technology could lead to an industry transformation, as it can be repeated indefinitely.

Unilever chief R&D officer David Blanchard said: “We want all of our packaging to be fit for a world that is circular by design, stepping away from the take-make-dispose model that we currently live in.

“This innovation is particularly exciting because it could unlock one of the major barriers today – making all forms of recycled PET suitable for food packaging.

“Indeed, making the PET stream fully circular would be a major milestone towards this ambition, not just helping Unilever, but transforming industry at large.”

Blanchard further explained that Unilever will support another sustainable packaging innovation.

Last year, Unilever revealed that all its plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.