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The Coca-Cola Company (KO)

December 15, 2011 10:00 am ET

Executives

Rick Frazier -

Allyson Park -

Patrick R. Gruber - Chief Executive Officer and Director

Tom B. van Aken - Chief Executive Officer

Lee Edwards - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Analysts

Unknown Analyst

Allyson Park

Good morning, welcome. My name is Allyson Park. I'm the Vice President of Corporate External Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company, and I'm going to serve as today's moderator. We are really excited to announce our partnership today to develop our next generation PlantBottle packaging. Today, you're going to hear from these representatives to my left from The Coca-Cola Company, as well as the 3 partners joining us. Each partner is going to discuss their specific technology and approach to how they're helping The Coca-Cola Company achieve a plastic bottle made entirely from plants. First, I'd like to introduce you to Rick Frazier. He's the Vice President of Commercial Product Supply at The Coca-Cola Company. Rick?

Rick Frazier

Thank you, Allyson, and good morning and thank you all for being with us today. Today, we're announcing a major agreement in the search for breakthrough packaging technology to sustain long-term growth. Just as important as the results we expect this agreement to produce is the approach to change it represents. Those will be the development of the first commercially available plastic bottle made entirely from plants that meets the functional needs of our entire beverage portfolio.

It is another big step toward our commitment to lead the industry away from the use of nonrenewable fossil fuels in packaging and toward more sustainable alternatives. It will build on our innovative first-generation PlantBottle package made from 30% plant-based material. Today, more than 10 billion PlantBottle packages have been produced and introduced in 20 countries around the world since initially launching at the end of 2009.

The approach, both in this project and our sustainability efforts throughout our $60 billion supply chain, reflects this reality. And even for a company like ours, with a long history of community involvement, a solid track record in sustainability, linear improvements to business as usual, won’t provide adequate solutions equal to the future challenges we face. To double our business in a sustainable way over the next decade, we must find new ways to do more with less. In some cases, entirely disrupt our current practices. For the Coca-Cola Company, that disruption starts with focusing our innovation in areas where we can make the biggest impact and use our strength to make the biggest difference.

That was our approach with our first-generation PlantBottle packaging and today, we continue to focus on making the biggest impact. We know how to create 100% plant-based bottle in the lab. We have for years. What we don't know today is whether technology for making 100% plant-based PET bottle can actually operate on the scale required to meet the global demands of our business in over 200 countries and ultimately the needs of the entire industry.

At 30%, we already have a commercial solution that we have deployed in 20 countries over the past 2 years. We could've taken several years to refine the 100% technology and production process and then started a slow rollout. But we chose to make a difference immediately with our first-generation PlantBottle packaging made up to 30% plant-based material. The rollout of 10 billion PlantBottle packages has saved the equivalent of 100,000 metric tons of CO2. That tells us we are on the right path. So does the fact that we're already enabling others to join us in this journey, as evident by our partnership with H.J. Heinz to use PlantBottle technology ketchup bottles.

We could've just built on the solid start incrementally and only expanded our 30% PlantBottle production and distribution, but we've put the pace of progress against the scale of the challenge. We, again, realized the need for disruption to the flow. We recognized we could gain speed in identifying the leading biotech companies with the biggest potential commercial solutions to develop 100% plant-based technology and accelerate these through funding versus trying to do it alone.

Our R&D team and technical advisory board looked at over 30 technology companies. We chose to invest in 3 that we believe have the right ability and the right focus to move 100% PlantBottle packaging out of the lab and into the market. They are Virent, Gevo and Avantium. We will hear from them in just a few minutes. All are 3 leaders in plant-based alternatives to petroleum and other nonrenewable resources. All 3 can help us move to 100% plant-based bottles on a global commercial scale in the next few years. They will work independently but within the guardrails of our sustainable packaging strategies and standards, for example: our steadfast commitment to quality in both operations and production, our commitment to use responsibly sourced materials that do not compete with food, our commitment to ensuring that our bottles are compatible with community recycling programs.

We took the path of concurrent discovery so the technology to produce bioplastics still very young. There are things we know, things we don't know and things we will discover on the route to our destination. Regardless of our supply chain, the differences in more than 200 countries we serve, and our global sense of urgency, calls for investigation and discovery on multiple fronts. Multiple solutions would clear for amateurs that will give us the best solution in the shortest amount of time.

There are many questions to answer, but we believe we have the right companies to help us answer them. Those answers will point us towards the day when, across The Coca-Cola system, and then markets around the world, 100% renewable plant materials will be in 100% of the bottles we produce. Combining our productions with others like Heinz, use our technology, that simply means millions and hundreds of millions and then billions of tons of CO2 will be removed from the atmosphere. Thank you.

Allyson Park

Thank you, Rick. Now I'd like to introduce our first speaker from one of our partners, Lee Edwards, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Virent. Virent is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Lee?

Lee Edwards

Thank you, Allyson, and really, thank you, Rick, too. It's a great privilege to be here this morning, representing Virent alongside Coca-Cola, Gevo

[Audio Gap]

to announce such a pioneering commitment to innovations, sustainability and brand leadership. It's a positive step forward. I can assure you that the Virent team is looking forward to playing a significant role in making second-generation 100% plant-based bottles a reality. Our first teams met several years ago and each company has been building a strong track record ever since, delivering aggressive milestones with success and urgency. We've advanced our relationship with Coca-Cola leading to today's important announcement. The Coca-Cola Company's continued dedication to accelerate new solutions in packaging creates significant opportunity for us all. An ability to anticipate consumer needs around the world, coupled with the decisive implementation, is really impressive.

For those not familiar with Virent, we're a privately held company based in Madison, Wisconsin. We're driven to commercialize our unique technology to replace crude oil. The company was founded in 2002 and we have 120 proud employees. Virent utilizes a patented catalytic conversion process called BioForming to convert a wide range of plant-based materials into products identical to those only

[Audio Gap]

our demonstrated ability to turn plant-based materials into paraxylene, which is one of the key raw materials in PET, with significant interest to Coca-Cola and we feel ultimately all those involved in the packaging. In fact, paraxylene is a key ingredient to all PET packaging and makes up 70% of each PET bottle. Because Virent is making direct replacement paraxylene for packaging and fabrics, scaling up will leverage existing expertise in the current supply chain. We think this is very important. Our product does not require special handling, nor special certification, but does offer the added benefits of sustainability with lower cost of volatility and being fully recyclable.

Virent has a proud track record of collaborative partnerships. And today, it's great to have Coca-Cola join our existing partners that include Dell, Cargill and Honda. We validated our technology and commercial progress through continued investment in time, expertise and capital. These successful partnerships demonstrate, for me, what is possible by working in concert and give me great confidence that we will have the same success by working together. And when I say together, it's not just Virent, it's all of those who are represented here in the room today to makes this vision of the first 100% plant-based bottle a reality and on a fast-track timeline.

Virent's delighted to apply our innovative technology and extensive resources to advance Coca-Cola's plant-based bottle to 100% form, to offer competitive and scalable solution to meet the challenges related to sustainability, energy security and exposure to volatile and rising crude oil prices.

I'm really looking forward to 2012 and beyond, and I'm really thirsty to get started now. Thank you very much.

Allyson Park

Thank you, Lee. Next, I'd like to introduce our second speaker, Patrick Gruber, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Gevo. Gevo is based in Englewood, Colorado. Patrick?

Patrick R. Gruber

Thank you very much. I'm really [indiscernible] actually very exciting [indiscernible] for 100% [indiscernible] decades and so it is with great pleasure that we can join you all today and I'm glad to be

[Audio Gap]

courage to do what we're doing and the way

[Audio Gap]

other and then including the leadership changed to occur. Actually, I can tell [indiscernible] and their putting their time, talent and money to make it happen. I'm also pleased to be here with Lee and Tom. Lee and Tom are -- these -- their companies are terrific. And it's going to take all of us to be successful to meet the needs of this marketplace.

Now what does Gevo do? Gevo has developed a fermentation technology that can be deployed in existing ethanol plants anywhere in the world. We can use any fermentable feedstock to produce a chemical called isobutanol. Isobutanol is an alcohol that is a component in flavors like bread and other things. It has -- we figured out how to make it at large scale very, very inexpensively. It turns out that we learned how to make it inexpensively enough that it can serve as a raw material to make paraxylene and we just heard Lee talk about why paraxylene is so important as a raw material for making PET plastics.

We’re in the midst of commercialization of our first plant. It's a 50,000 metric ton plant, that's a world scale plant. It comes online in the first half of next year. We're a public company. We’ve had met quite a lot of success and have many partners across many segments in the chemical industry.

I'm pleased that we can be here. I'm pleased to work with these companies. And in particular, I'd like to thank The Coca-Cola Company. It's a great opportunity for all of us.

Allyson Park

Thank you, Patrick. We're going to have one final speaker and then we'll go into Q&A, both on the conference line as well as the medium stakeholders in the room. And so let me introduce our third and final speaker, it is Tom van Aken, and he is from Avantium, based in Amsterdam. Tom?

Tom B. van Aken

Allison. Good morning, everyone. It's an honor to be here today in New York and to announce our partnership with The Coca-Cola Company to work together on the development of bottles that will be made entirely from plants instead of petroleum. And it's also great to be here in the presence of both Gevo and Virent, 2 companies for which we have great respect.

First, I would like to introduce our company. Avantium is a research and technology company based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with a strong track record in developing new catalytic process for the chemical and energy [ph] industries. We're a privately held company, backed by international group of financial capital companies, and we employ 115 people that have come across the globe -- from across the globe to work with us on developing new and exciting technologies such as plant-based bottles.

Similar to what you've heard from Gevo and from Virent, Avantium is working on a technology to develop 100% plant-based bottles to replace bottles that are made from petroleum. While Virent and Gevo are working on the technology to make a bio-based version of PET, Avantium has a different approach. We're working on a new plastic that is called PEF. I would like to tell you more about what PEF is, how we make it and about our partnership with The Coca-Cola Company.

So what is PEF? PEF is new to the world's bio-based plastic. And we believe it has the criteria to become the world's next-generation polyester. It's 100% bio based. And when it's produced on a commercial scale, it is fully recyclable, and therefore we believe it really fits well with the strategy of The Coca-Cola Company as explained earlier by Rick.

But there’s more reason for us to be so excited about PEF, and that is that PEF has exceptional functional properties. These exceptional properties give an insight in the performance and potential of this new bio-based plastic. PEF has outstanding barrier properties and a better ability to withstand heat. Barrier properties are critical factors for packaging of beverages, and PEF offers substantial benefits here. To put it simply, PEF is really good at keeping the bubbles in the bottle and keeping the oxygen out of the bottle. That's what PEF is.

These exceptional properties of PEF make us believe that PEF could become the world's next-generation polyester and it will enable a wave of new innovation for The Coca-Cola Company. Not only the performance of PEF that makes us so excited about this material, we also believe that PEF can be made in a very price competitive way, compared to oil-based PET, and can be a substantial improvement for the environment.

Avantium has developed a production process to make PEF plastic under the brand name YXY, or pronounced as ixi. Avantium's YXY technology is a chemical catalytic process to convert carbohydrates from plants to building blocks for a range of bioplastics and chemicals. This is a highly efficient and fast production process that fits well with existing production installations and supply chains. On the basis of our process economic estimates, we believe that PEF will be a cost-effective alternative to petroleum-based PET once it's produced on an industrial scale.

In addition, Avantium has performed life cycle analysis studies that point out that PEF's carbon footprint is a significant improvement over petroleum-based PET. We estimate that with PEF, we can reduce the carbon footprint of plastic bottles with well over 50% and a similar improvement of nonrenewable energy use. The journey to develop this new bio-based plastic started 5 years ago in Amsterdam and we've reached a critical stage in proving the commercial viability of this new and exciting material together with The Coca-Cola Company.

Last week, Avantium reached another milestone by opening and starting the pilot plant to prove our YXY technology in our private plant at Geleen, the Netherlands. There, we will prove the YXY technology at scale and produce sufficient volumes for our partners including The Coca-Cola Company. Collaboration with the Coca-Cola Company is about the further development of these PEF bottles to get them to the stage where they can be launched to the market and produced on mass scale, while making sure that it fits with existing supply chains and can be fully recycled. We plan to initiate commercial full-scale production in 3 to 4 years from now.

I would like to finalize by stating that we're very excited to be here together with The Coca-Cola Company in developing and commercializing these PEF bottles. The Coca-Cola Company has proven to be a real leader when it comes to bringing sustainable packaging materials to the market and today's announcement shows that they're also leading the way to 100% bio-based, 100% recyclable bottles. We're very excited to be part of this effort in partnering with The Coca-Cola Company for the development of these new bottles. Thank you.

Allyson Park

Thank you, Tom, thank you, Patrick, Lee and Rick. We are going to move into the Q&A portion of today's briefing. We have a number of people here in the room who may have questions, as well as those on the conference line. What I'd like to ask of those in the room, if you have a question, if you will please your raise your hand and Jen in the back is going to have a microphone, just so those on the conference line can hear your question. If you can please state your name and the organization you're with, if you're asking a question either in the room, or on the conference line, and what we'll do is we'll take a couple of questions from the room and then we'll open it up to those on the conference line so you can get your questions answered.

So first, I'd like to ask anyone in the room who might have a question.

Question-and-Answer Session

Unknown Analyst

Paul Ziobro [ph] with Dow Jones Newswires. I had a question for Rick and I just wanted to get a mindset on the timeframe that you have for this. You mentioned a few years you want to get all the plastic material used for the entire length [ph] of this new second-generation bottle. I mean, what are you talking about 5, 10 years? And also can you give us a scope of the cost that Coke is investing in developing these plant-based packaging?

Rick Frazier

To answer your question, first of all, if you look back 2 years ago, we put a stake in the ground that by 2020, that we would have 100% plant-based bottle. Advancing that, we said that, “You know, we can probably do it a lot sooner than 2020, maybe 2015”. And we believe there's further opportunity, but in terms of the exact timing on that, I'll leave that to my partners as they go down the path from a developmental standpoint. In terms of the cost, it's really about -- more about the benefits than the costs. We, as The Coca-Cola Company, have a strong belief, as part of our DNA, around protecting our environment and our communities that we operate. Today, on our first-generation PlantBottle, which is made up of 30% bio-MEG, it is at a premium. But the premium is worth it today in terms of having less dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels, the reduction of CO2 in our environment. And to put it in perspective of the CO2 that we've been able to reduce just on the 30% in the marketplace today, that's equivalent to taking out about 18,000 cars. That’s equivalent to carbon emission of about 2 million gallons of gas. And it also gives us an opportunity from a differentiation standpoint to not be dependent on petrochemicals. As we improve our supply chain, we will continue to reduce that premium that we pay today and believe it will be at equivalent prices, or potentially better, as we go forth and develop our strategy on PlantBottle.

Allyson Park

Before I open up the any of our partners to comment, I think it is important to note that, that premium is paid by The Coca-Cola Company, but not passed on to our consumers. So our consumers aren't seeing that incremental cost. Anything you all would like to add to that question? If not, we'll go to the next. Okay?

Unknown Analyst

You're all very cordial to each other but it seems quite clear to me that this is indeed a competition. You have 3 dimerization in paraxylene and a whole other polymer altogether roots to the bottle. How is it field structured? Are there milestone payments? Or would it be another reason for you to work with Pepsi and RC down the road? I mean, what -- how does that all work out?

Allyson Park

Rick, you want to take that first?

Rick Frazier

First of all, from the standpoint of the company, we went through a vetting process of over 30 companies. And as we went to the vetting process, we found the 3 that we believe that will allow us to attain that 100% PlantBottle goal. At the same time, as you look at partnerships, we understand that we can't do it alone. We need to go and work with other parties as part of the process. And by the way, as I mentioned in my opening comments, we're very young in terms of understanding the process of this journey. So there is not one technology that at this time, that is going to get us there but we believe there are 3 viable options. And at the end of the day, the field is huge in terms of the opportunity to meet the needs, not just The Coca-Cola Company, but the entire industry. Now I think it's a very good point to say coming in that these guys are competitors. They don't look at us as competitors, they look at the solution in terms of what is the goal. The goal is to figure out how do we come up with a viable bio-based bio-plastic that will be renewable and meet our long-term needs. And it's been very open conversations around how we go about doing that and then there is actually relationships and plays that I believe that these 3 companies have between themselves and I'll turn it over to them to make

[Audio Gap]

Lee Edwards

It's Lee Edwards from Virent. We totally believe that because the market is so large, and maybe more importantly, the market is growing significantly on a global scale, but if you do want to have a material sector, it is changing the paradigm. You need confident, reliable choice with more than one player in the supply chain. My goal is that Virent becomes on the front edge, a material player, but one company alone will not be able to have the scale and the materiality to make an industry. Today, it's a breakthrough leadership act. My hope is, in 10 years, it becomes the industry standard. That needs more than one company, more than one

[Audio Gap]

all willing to bring what they bring into the market. Tonight, we are the winners. We're here today with Coca-Cola, so I think you're vetting process has done a lot to say which ones have the most promise. So we look at it, it's not a competition beginning. The competition, in some ways, has just ended.

Rick Frazier

Now we talked a lot about that amongst ourselves, the competition, and the truth is, that the most important thing of all is to have that customer at the end saying they want the product and it's way more than anyone of us can deliver. That's the most important thing of all. I can tell you that. I know these companies extremely well. Virent's technology is very good as is Avantium's, very good technologies and ours is too. All are competitive and I believe all of us will be successful and the market is so darn big. And [indiscernible] our colleague companies. That's how we describe ourselves to each other.

Allyson Park

Thank you, Patrick. Tom, anything to add?

Tom B. van Aken

Well, I think most has been said about the huge size of the market so it's very easy to foresee that the market is big enough for all 3 companies, which I really hope will happen. But I think we want to talk about competition. It’s much more about we have to prove if we're going to be competitive to petroleum-based PET. That is the standard that’s out there today, and that is what we have to make sure, that the technologies that we develop are going to be cost effective compared to petroleum-based PET. And since we are developing a new polymer, for us it's basically a matter of making sure that we develop something that competes in price, performance and environmental footprint with the current standard, which is petroleum-based PET. That's the way we look at it.

Allyson Park

I know we have a number of other questions here in the room, [Operator Instructions] And let's go to another question here in the room.

Doris de Guzman

.

Doris de Guzman from ICIS Chemical Business. It's great that you guys have 3 competitors for the 70% component of the PET, but I was wondering about the 30% bio-MEG, and I know that there's only one bio-MEG supplier right now that Coca-Cola supplies. So I was just wondering, what's your strategy on that part.

Rick Frazier

Thank you, Doris, for reminding me that I have a lot more work ahead of me. But to put it in perspective, it's part of our overall strategy. And now we're talking about the TA portion of the company's offer and then let's just talk a little bit about the bio-MEG. Today, there is only one source. We are in negotiations and developing our overall supply chain that we can have multiple sources of supplier as part of that process. So that's as much as I can give you from an information standpoint, but stay tuned.

Allyson Park

Additional questions here in the room?

Matt Naitove

Matt Naitove of Plastics Technology magazine. Could each of the 3 partners say something about what sort of plant source material are you're anticipating?

Tom B. van Aken

The source of our YXY technology to make PEF plastic is C6 sugars. And we are -- they can come from any source, so it could come from sugarcane but they can also come -- and that’s what we're actively working on from second-generation feedstock such as agricultural waste, other sources of nonfood feedstock. Preferably, we would go for nonfood sugars if that's good.

Patrick R. Gruber

We would use any fermentable sugar of any type, anywhere in the world, and that you have the design and technology to win. And when you have a long-run view, is you have to use in the near term what's available and collected. That means there are things like starches, whatever the crop is, could be sugar from beets or cane. It depends on where you are in the world and what the lowest cost of product. That's where you start. It's not where you finished though. Where you finish, you use cellulosic sugars, biomass residues, agricultural waste, base materials straightaway like wastepaper. They could be aspens [ph], they could be wood. It's going to be a little bit different in the long run depending upon where you are in the world or where you locate your plant because what you're trying to do is provide the lowest cost source for these technologies. I'm always paying attention to sustainability, the impact on food

[Audio Gap]

Lee Edwards

It's Lee Edwards from Virent. We've been able to successfully demonstrate our technology in converting sugars from a wide range of corns, dover, sugarcane bygas [ph], as well as conventional sugars such as sugar beets, cornstarch. And because of that flexibility that is unique to the chemistry, whether it's a C5 sugar molecule or a C6 molecule or a polymer form of sugar, we convert with the same high yields and efficiencies. Wide footprint of available and sustainable feedstocks that we can use. A lot of it will depend on geographies, markets, and also the availability to actually collect and process the biomass gets scale in our plant deployment. So I'm really pleased with the breadth of our feedstock success so far. And I think it will play importantly into some of the principles that Coca-Cola stands behind, not just for getting first plants up for long-term deployment on a global

[Audio Gap]

Allyson Park

Other questions?

Unknown Analyst

Just to follow up on a question to Tom. I was wondering, because your plastic is kind of like a novel plastic compared to the others, which is a drop in. How is your plastic going to fit into the current existing infrastructure?

Tom B. van Aken

Tom van Aken, Avantium. If you look at the process that we have developed to make our PEF plastic, most of the process can be done in existing product insulation so the oxidation step, the polymerization step, but also the bulk of blowing can be done on existing PET insulations. So in that sense, we really want to make sure that we have a very good usage of existing production facilities and supply chains. When it comes to recycling, we want to make sure that PEF can be fully recycled and that is also going to be part of the partnership with The Coca-Cola Company to demonstrate the recycling of PEF once it's commercialized. But I think the most important thing is that we really want to make sure that we can use existing supply chains and existing production insulations to make this PEF bottle, and that is something that we've proven, and that is also the strategy for rolling out and deploying this technology.

Matt Naitove

Matt Naitove, again, from Plastics Technology. Could you spell out what PEF stands for? And also when you speak of recycling, are you talking about recycling PEF with PET in the same chain or in a separate recycling chain?

Tom B. van Aken

PEF is polyethylene furanoate. So basically, what we -- where we're different from PET is we replace pure terephthalic acids with furandicarboxylic acids, which if you combine furandicarboxylic acid with one ethylene glycol, you come to PEF. Your second question was about recycling. We want to make sure that PEF can be recycled to PEF. Part of the effort with The Coca-Cola Company is also going to be to determine the impact of PEF on existing recycle streams. So that is something that I cannot give you a black and white answer for. That is something which is really carefully prepared as part of the development plan with The Coca-Cola Company. We recognize that it's very important that we don't damage any supply chains and recycle streams that are there. So that it's going to very carefully evaluated as part of the program with The Coca-Cola Company.

Unknown Analyst

Paul from Dow Jones again. Just another question for Rick and if anybody else can chime in as well. Do you envision the 100% plant-based bottle, the cost being more predictable than bottle is right now or -- I know it's really hard to lock in, I guess, hedge the cost for that?

Rick Frazier

That's a very challenging question because it depends on volatilities in the market but it actually gives us choice. Right now, we don't have a choice but to look at petroleum-based. Now we have a choice. And it also depends as we look at the various markets and feedstocks as we build the supply chain. We would

[Audio Gap]

some of the existing supply chains as part of the process, and we're going to have to be building new supply chains which, in some cases, will give us some efficiency as part of the process. Our goal is very clear on this, is: one, to ensure that the material is sustainable. Two, that is cost competitive in the marketplace as we go forth.

Allyson Park

Patrick, do you want to add to that?

Patrick R. Gruber

This is Pat Gruber. It's interesting, they have -- the first step, together we'll all be figuring out how to get these products fully into the marketplace and what the cost structure is and then that question will be answered directly. I can tell you what happened in other -- with other customers that we serve, that the agricultural raw materials are not as volatile as oil, that they recognize that and evaluate. And so I would hope the same thing happens here.

Allyson Park

Lee, anything to add? Okay. Questions?

Matt Naitove

Matt Naitove, again. This question is for Mr. Frazier. You said earlier on -- that you want to be -- you intend to be the first with 100% bio-based bottle. You have a competitor in that race. What makes you confident that you'll be the first to achieve that?

Rick Frazier

First of all, great question. The way I first would answer for that is competition is good. What we really are trying to do is figure out how to reduce the amount of CO2. At the same time, I'm not aware of how they're doing it. I can speak to how we're doing it. We've already demonstrated in terms of not waiting toward 100%. We're going also to our first generation which is at the 30%. Also, by this announcement, I think it also shows our commitment and our aggressiveness to move toward 100%. So at the end of the day, it's not just being first, but being first in terms of coming up with solutions that can help our environment. And we welcome anyone that is going down that same path to come up with solutions and allow us to put in a bottle in a market vis-à-vis PET that will be added to the sustainable footprint on a global basis.

Allyson Park

[Operator Instructions] Any other questions in the room?

Unknown Analyst

It'll be 100% PET bottle, but of course you still have the cap and the wrap. Are there any plans with that? I think some companies have gone with bio-based polyolefins.

Rick Frazier

Great question, and actually a challenge that I have internally that I put forth. So we are first concentrating on let's get the bottle. Let’s understand out there on the other components, if it’s caps, labels and so forth, but that will be our overall objective. But right now, we're concentrating on the bottle.

Matt Naitove

I have a technical question or 2 for Mr. van Aken. You indicated that PEF offers higher barrier and higher heat resistance than PET. Can you make that comparison a little more specific?

Tom B. van Aken

Heat resistance of PG to TG is about 10 degrees higher off PEF. Barrier properties of PEF and the water barrier is 2x better than PET. The CO2 barriers is 3x better than PET, and oxygen barrier property is 6x better than PET. So we think it's a very substantial difference, which is why we talk about exceptional product properties.

Matt Naitove

Is the density similar to PET?

Tom B. van Aken

Density is somewhat higher.

Matt Naitove

And the clarity?

Tom B. van Aken

The polymer PEF itself is colorless so we clearly aim to produce colorless PEF bottles.

Allyson Park

Rick, do you want to add to that?

Matt Naitove

Now, just one further thing about the recycling. Do you anticipate the possibility or necessity of being able to somehow physically detect the difference between automated PET and automated PEF and then separate them at an MRF facility?

Tom B. van Aken

Yes, that's -- it's a good point. I think the most important thing is that we recognize the importance of recycling and recycling is not something that a company Avantium can do on its own. Which is why we're really pleased to work together with The Coca-Cola Company to get this done and to get a full understanding of how PEF will behave in the streams -- recycle streams of PET, but also the best way to recycle PEF on its own to PEF. The best way to do that, that it is something we're going to do together with The Coca-Cola Company and also with its partners. As you probably know, The Coca-Cola Company is a very big recycler itself, so I think they have every incentive to make sure to get this right.

Allyson Park

We now have questions via the conference line so I'm going to go to our moderator to let us know the questions.

Operator

We'll go Jennifer Zegler with Beverage Industry.

Jennifer Zegler

I have a question regarding the milestones along the way. I know you had mentioned that it's currently at a 30% level of plant-based and your intention obviously is to go to 100%. Are there also going to be milestones along the way of hoping to be at 50% or 60% before rolling out a 100% plant-based bottle?

Rick Frazier

Yes, this is Rick Frazier. No, because a bottle is made of 2 components, by weight, 30% MEG and 70% TA. So you can't go 50% TA. That would not give you a PET bottle by weight. So you can only go 30% and 70% as part of the overall process in terms of our strategy. But we'll aggressively as we, from a commercialization standpoint, try to get that 100% bottle as quickly as possible.

Allyson Park

I think that's the only question we have on the line. [Operator Instructions] I'd like to now ask if there any remaining questions from those in the room? Matt has his hand up.

Matt Naitove

Yes, just considering the higher barrier properties, I guess that leads me to wonder if there's potential here for a beer bottle?

Tom B. van Aken

I understand your question, and of course we'll be happy to answer that, I'm here on stage with The Coca-Cola Company so I don't think this is really the place to talk about beer bottles, but thank you. But yes, we also think that's possible.

Allyson Park

Thank you. Well, I want to thank all of those who joined us live today, as well as those on the conference call line. For those of you here in person, we do have press materials on stick available when you leave. We also have press materials that have been put on the wire, including B-roll. And if you have additional questions, you can feel free to connect with the 4 company representatives up here to my left. And thank you very much.

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Source: The Coca-Cola Company - Special Call
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