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SK Innovations opts for Plastic Energy chemical recycling technology at Ulsan site

Plastic Energy, a London headquartered chemical recycling company and SK Innovation’s subsidiary for its green chemicals business, SK Geo Centric (SKGC), are joining forces to build a new chemical recycling plant based on technology developed by Plastic Energy.

The new plant will be located at SKGC’s recycling cluster in Ulsan, South Korea and will have a projected annual processing capacity of 66,000 tonnes of plastic waste.

A Heads of Agreement was signed by Na Kyung-soo, CEO of SKGC, and Carlos Monreal, CEO of Plastic Energy, Nov. 16, on behalf of their respective companies, according to a statement released earlier today.

The new plant will be the largest in Asia. The companies say it is expected to open in 2025.

The project in Ulsan is not Plastic Energy’s only iron in the fire in Korea. Together with SKGC, it is also considering bringing chemical recycling operations to the Gyeonggi province in Korea, in the metropolitan area of Seoul.

“Korea is an important market for advanced recycling of end-of-life plastics,” said Monreal.

He has already met with Kim Dong-yeon, the governor of the province, to discuss his company’s technology for processing end-of-life plastics and to explore whether this could fit into the Gyeonggi province’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.  

Together, the two plants would have the capacity to process over 100,000 metric tons of waste plastic per year into a feedstock — Tacoil — that would be used by SKGC, for example, to make new plastics.

Tacoil is obtained through Plastic Energy’s patented TAC process, which heats mixed post-consumer plastic waste in the absence of oxygen. Multilayer plastics can be processed together, with no separation by type or color needed. All are heated in an oxygen-free atmosphere to create hydrocarbon gases, which are then condensed into Tacoil, which can be used by petrochemical companies as a replacement for fossil oils in the production of virgin-quality plastics.

Plastic Energy already operates two advanced recycling plants in Spain; one in Almeria and the other in Seville. The company also has three plants currently under construction in the Netherlands and France, an MoU for a project in Malaysia, and several other projects in Europe and the US. This will be Plastic Energy’s first project in Korea.

SKGC is looking forward to working with Plastic Energy to establish the largest advanced recycling plant in Asia, said Na Kyung-soo. He added that SK Geo Centric will remain committed to ‘expanding our cooperation for achieving the circular economy’.

 Deploying this technology in Asia is an important step to reducing plastic pollution in the region and making plastics more sustainable.

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