October 2005

“Buy Back” program launched for post-consumer bottles made from NatureWorks® PLA

Minnetonka, MN— NatureWorks LLC announced plans to institute a large-volume “buy-back” program in North America for post-consumer PLA bottles in mixed plastic waste recycling streams. The program provides an additional landfill waste diversion option for corn-based NatureWorks® PLA, a material that already offers the most waste diversion choices of any other plastic.

NatureWorks LLC has created this program as part of its commitment to the principle of responsible innovation. The company is proactively working to ensure that future mass-market introductions of bottles made from NatureWorks PLA have minimal negative impact on the current recycling system in the U.S. Through the buy-back program, commercial municipal recycling facilities (MRFs) in geographic areas would separate post-consumer PLA bottles into distinct PLA bales meeting a predefined specification, resulting in truckload quantities (40,000 lbs.). NatureWorks LLC will buy these bales at an agreed-upon price and route them to an appropriate end-of-life solution and/or post-consumer use based on geography of collection and prevailing market economics.

Today NatureWorks PLA can be sorted from other plastics using standard near-infrared (NIR) equipment. In the future, MRFs will have the ability to sort PLA into a pure stream that can be mechanically or chemically recycled back to its monomer through hydrolysis. Third-party independent research verifies that NatureWorks PLA can exist with minimal impact in the current recycling infrastructure for recycling PET and HDPE. As a polymer, NatureWorks PLA is technically suited for single-use-bottle applications such as regional still water, fresh dairy, fresh juice, and edible oils. The current technology is not applicable for carbonated beverages. In the U.S. today, the most commonly recycled item is the soda bottle which makes up the majority of the collected recycled waste stream.

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