Bacardi, the world’s largest family-owned spirits company, announced plans to put a sustainable spirits bottle on the shelf by 2023. The new 100% biodegradable bottle will replace 80 million plastic bottles — 3,000 tons of plastic — currently produced by Bacardi across its portfolio of brands every year, said the company in a press release. The Bermuda-based company is collaborating with Danimer Scientific to use Danimer’s Nodax™ PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates), a biopolymer derived from the natural oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy. “The new spirits bottle made from Nodax™ PHA will biodegrade in a wide range of environments, including compost[ing], soil, freshwater and sea water, and after 18 months disappear without leaving behind harmful microplastics,” according to Bacardi. BACARDÍ® rum will be the first spirit to appear in the new bottle, before the plant-based material is rolled out to replace single-use plastic across the entire Bacardi supply chain and the company’s 200 brands and labels including BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin, GREY GOOSE® vodka, PATRÓN® tequila, MARTINI® vermouth and DEWAR’S® Scotch whisky.
In addition to the new 100% biopolymer spirits bottle, Bacardi is also creating a sustainably sourced paper bottle by integrating the Nodax™ PHA polymer. ‘When we set ourselves the goal of being 100% plastic free by 2030, we knew that it would take groundbreaking advances in packaging design to make it achievable, and that’s exactly what’s happening through our partnership with Danimer,” explained Jean-Marc Lambert, Senior Vice President, Global Operations for Bacardi. “We also have cracked one of the beverage industry’s longest-standing plastic problems — the plastic lining of bottle closures. It may sound small, but add that up across every bottle produced globally and we’re talking many tons of plastic every day. Once we’ve fixed the problem, we’ll be open sourcing the solution for the entire industry to use.”
According to the Bacardi press release, Nodax™ PHA was verified as a truly biodegradable alternative to petrochemical plastics by the University of Georgia (UGA) and the UGA New Materials Institute in a 2018 study. Danimer Scientific currently uses the material for a wide range of applications, including thermoformed trays, drinking straws, flexible and multilayer film packaging, coatings, disposable cutlery, and more. BioCycle recently featured a poster that shows the fate of biodegradable polymers in environments such as soil, composting and landfill. “The biodegradability of plastics derived from these biodegradable polymers can only be guaranteed if all additives and (organic) fillers are biodegradable, too,” explains text on the poster. PHA is the broad family name of biopolymers that include PHB, which is a homopolymer. The poster utilizes PHB (instead of PHA) in part because it is in the public domain and not a proprietary compound. PHB is rated on the poster as having proven biodegradability in all environments — marine, fresh water, soil, home composting, landfill, anaerobic digestion, and industrial composting.