SKC creates a joint venture with two national companies to produce biodegradable PBAT

[Courtesy of SKC]

SEOUL – SKC, a leading manufacturer of polyester films and chemical materials in South Korea, will form a joint venture with two national companies to produce polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT), a biodegradable random copolymer marketed as a fully biodegradable alternative low density polyethylene.

The joint venture tentatively named “Ecovance” will build a plant capable of producing 70,000 tonnes of high strength PBAT per year from 2023, using nanocellulose extracted from trees as a reinforcing material. Nanocellulose is a light solid substance obtained from plant material that includes cellulose fibrils of nanometric size. It is pseudo-plastic and has the property of specific types of fluids or gels that are generally thick under normal conditions.

SKC would invest 104 billion won ($ 87 million) to own 57.8% of the joint venture and provide technology, operational know-how and R&D capabilities. Daesang, a major food products and materials company, will get 22.2% with an injection of 40 billion won and supply butanediol as a biomass feedstock. LX International, a trading company, will invest 36 billion won to own 20 percent and is in charge of sales.

“SKC will continue to make efforts to strengthen its environmentally friendly biodegradable materials business and create an ecosystem that helps solve plastic problems while accelerating its pyrolysis oil business that turns plastic waste into resources,” an anonymous SKC official said in a November statement. 23.

In 2020, SKC partnered with the Korea Chemical Technology Research Institute (KRICT) on a state project to commercialize high-strength biodegradable bioplastics capable of replacing refractory plastic materials by adding extracted nanocellulose reinforcement. from wood pulp to regular PBAT. High strength PBAT overcomes weakness of tearing or stretching easily to have tensile strength at the level of widely used petroleum plastics. It can replace refractory plastics such as disposable plastic bags and injection products.

In September 2021, SKC partnered with TBM, a Japanese startup, to create a joint venture for the production of a new environmentally friendly material by applying biodegradable material technology to LIMEX, a material based on limestone that can become an alternative to paper. and plastic. TBM has marketed LIMEX produced from calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which is derived from limestone, and a small amount of polymer resin added as a binder.

SKC believes that biodegradable LIMEX would be competitively priced because it uses up to 80 percent limestone. The biodegradable LIMEX has increased the ecological characteristics by mixing limestone with biodegradable resins which decompose in nature in a short time instead of plastic resins.

SKC released a biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) film packaging material in 2009. PLA is a biodegradable, lactic acid-based plastic that is produced by the fermentation and refining of glucose extracted from corn and is primarily used for food packaging containers and tableware. It is made of an environmentally friendly material that breaks down naturally over several months by microorganisms under certain conditions.

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