Tie-ups: SK Geo Centric/Veolia collaborate on recycling in South Korea; SK Chemicals/ Shuye to build recycling plant in China

SK Geo Centric/Veolia collaborate on recycling in South Korea

The petrochemical arm of SK Innovation, SK Geo Centric, has teamed up with Paris-based Veolia Environment to carry out a joint study on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), and waste plastics as raw materials for pyrolysis, or thermal decomposition, in Asia. In addition, the two companies will establish a chemical recycling cluster in Ulsan, where SK Innovation’s other petrochemical subsidiary SK Global Chemical (SKGC) will invest US$522 million to construct South Korea’s largest plastic waste recycling factory by 2025.

SK Geo Centric says it aims to transform itself into an eco-friendly chemical producer by building three additional factories in Asia and raise its total waste recycling capacity to 400,000 tonnes/year by 2030.

By studying plastic pyrolysis with the French company, SK Geo Centric adds it seeks to recycle waste plastics that cannot be recycled using traditional methods and have therefore been incinerated or landfilled. Moreover, given that landfilling in the Seoul metropolitan region will be prohibited from 2026, plastic pyrolysis could also serve as an eco-friendly waste treatment alternative.

According to SK Geo Centric CEO Na Kyung-soo, the company will keep in line with the eco-friendly trend worldwide, lead the circular economy industry, and expand such efforts into the rest of Asia.

SK Chemicals/ Shuye to build recycling plant in China

Meanwhile in related news, SK Chemicals will build a joint venture plant in China to produce chemicals using recycled plastic waste. SK Chemicals says that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Shuye, a Chinese green material company, to establish two joint venture chemical plants in Shantou, China.

The MOU followed SK Chemicals’ US$18 million investment to buy a 10% stake in Sheye last year. The stake purchase granted SK the right to buy 20,000 tonnes of chemical recyclable plastic materials.

The two companies will build a depolymerisation plant that produces 100,000 tonnes/year of recycled bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (r-BHET) and another plant that produces 200,000 tonnes/year of chemically recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and copolyester using r-BHET.

Shuye will provide a plant site, which is adjacent to the existing depolymerisation plant, allowing the two partners to maximise efficiency in terms of infrastructure utilisation and investment cost reduction, management and operation.

SK Chemicals will take management rights in the venture with a stake of more than 51%.

SK Chemicals and Sheye are expected to reach a firm agreement on the jv within the year and begin plant construction by early next year with commercial operation expected to begin in late 2024.

SK is also considering building a similar facility that extracts 50,000 tonnes/year of recyclable plastic materials in South Korea by 2025.


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