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US-Korean partnership claims ‘ultra clean’ polypropylene

South Korean Chemical company SK Geo Centric has invested 68 billion won (EUR 50 million) in the US plastic recycling firm PureCycle Technologies to back its chemical recycling solution that removes contaminants, odours and colours from plastic scrap.

The use of a solvent achieves what PureCycle calls ‘Ultra Pure Recycled Polypropylene’. Its first recycling plant, with an annual capacity of 50 000 tonnes, is scheduled to be completed in Ohio in the fourth quarter of this year. Construction on a second plant, in Georgia with total capacity of 300 000 tonnes, is due to begin this month.
SK Geo Centric is one of the parties to an equity investment round that raked in EUR 228 million. Its involvement is part of a larger strategy to jointly push for global business expansion in China and Asia.
As an example, the partners are planning to launch a joint venture to build a 60 000 tonnes a year recycling facility in Ulsan-Mipo Industrial Park, along the coast of Korea, by late 2024. This deal gives SK Geo Centric an exclusive right to sell the recycled PP in Asia.
‘We will secure three key differentiated technologies for chemical advanced recycling, including pyrolysis and depolymerisation technologies, and accelerate the establishment of the circular economy for plastics through creating a recycle cluster in Ulsan,’ says Na Kyung-soo, ceo of SK Geo Centric.
PP currently accounts for 25% of the world’s demand for plastics. PureCycle’s technology is said to yield an output to match the quality of virgin plastics and recycling PP reduces the amount of plastic scrap ending up in landfill and incinerator plants.

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