Beer Bottles Made of Sugar Set to Make Debut at Tokyo Olympics

  • New beverage material developed by Dutch company Avantium
  • Mitsui plans to sell bio-based plastic to Japan's brewers

Japan’s Mitsui & Co. wants you drinking beer from bottles made of sugar at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The country’s second-biggest trading company has partnered with Avantium Technologies BV, an Amsterdam-based renewable chemicals company to develop and market plastic bottles made from plant-based sugars. Plastic bottles for beverages are typically derived from fossil fuels.

The material is unique because it retains carbon dioxide and keeps out oxygen at a higher rate than traditional plastics so it’s specially suited for alcoholic beverages, according to Nathan Kemeling, a director at Avantium. Mitsui, which has reserved a “significant portion” of capacity from a planned facility that will manufacture the material, hopes to market it by 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics.

“It is our target to be at the Tokyo Olympics in time to drink beer,” Kemeling said during a press briefing in Tokyo. “At a concert or a stadium, you cannot take a can, but a plastic bottle is allowed because of safety reasons.”

The International Olympic Committee, based in Switzerland, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

In 2011, Avantium signed a partnership with Coca-Cola Co. to help develop plant-based plastic bottles. Mitsui announced on Thursday that they will also work with Avantium in Asia to develop other bio-based products, such as films, shirts and containers.

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