The plant-based materials can decompose in as little as 80 days/Bloombergby Bloomberg
UAE-based Agthia Group, one of the largest Middle East drinking-water company is producing the region’s first bottles made entirely from fermented plant sugars.
Tariq Ahmed Al Wahedi, the Chief Executive Officer of Agthia Group, said that the company which markets the Al Ain brand of drinking water plans to distribute its first shipment of water in bio-degradable containers within a few months.
The Abu Dhabi-based company is in talks with potential buyers across the UAE including hotels, restaurants and government agencies, said Al Wahedi.
Agthia produces the bottle caps from fermented sugar cane. The plant-based materials can decompose in as little as 80 days.
The company is experimenting with these alternatives to plastic even as the UAE and other oil and gas producers expand into manufacturing petrochemicals—the building blocks for plastics. Governments in the region see producing petrochemicals as a way of squeezing more profit from crude and gas while limiting their exposure to the price volatility of fossil fuels.
Benchmark Brent crude has dropped about 13 per cent this year, after gaining 23 per cent in 2019, as the coronavirus weighs on demand. OPEC and its allies have reduced oil production and will meet next month to consider extending the output cuts beyond March 2020.
However, the plant-based bottles are costlier to make than plastic ones, Al Wahedi said, without giving details. The new bottles also have a shorter shelf life.
Agthia currently sells 50 million cases or about one billion litres of water a year. All of them could use plant-based bottles if there is enough demand and resin available, added Al Wahedi. The company wants to produce five per cent of its bottles from plant-based sources by 2021, though it isn’t marketing them to the general public because they require special handling for collection and decomposition.