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Comment Sustainability

SK Global Chemical and Kolon Industries launching biodegradable PBAT plastic

By Mary Page Bailey |

Kolon Industries and SK Global Chemical Ltd. (both Seoul, South Korea) are cooperating to launch eco-friendly biodegradable plastic product PBAT (Polybuthylene Adipate-co-Terephthalate), which can “decomposes well,” in the third quarter this year.

PBAT is an environmental-friendly plastic product that quickly degrades through oxygen, heat, light, and enzyme reaction in nature. Conventional plastic products take nearly a century, in general, to degrade naturally, but PBAT products are known to be able to naturally degrade within six months after being buried. Due to such an eco-friendly feature, the usage amount of PBAT is showing a spiking increase. 

Kolon Industries and SK Global Chemical have decided to officially launch high-quality PBAT products within the third quarter this year by concentrating the chemical process technology, which each of the companies has accumulated for years. The two companies plan to complete the biodegradability certification of PBAT products and patent applications at home (South Korea) and abroad, as well as developing prototypes by the first half of this year.

Kolon will share its PBAT production technology, based on Korea’s top-class nylon and polyester product manufacture technology, and the facility operation know-hows. SK Global Chemical is planning to make full use of its position as Korea’s only PBAT raw material manufacturer/supplier and upgrade the high-quality PBAT production technology by combining the eco-friendly packaging material field technologies accumulated so far.

This means Kolon Industries receives a steady supply of raw materials from SK Global Chemical and makes PBAT. In this process, SKGC’s know-hows on optimal temperature, material mixture ratio, etc., will be applied to produce high-quality PBAT products.

Kolon Industries and SK Global Chemical concluded a strategic partnership on the 7th to start the eco-friendly biodegradable plastic product business. The two companies are now entering the commercialization stage of products after a year of cooperative R&D.

Kolon Industries and SK Global Chemical aim to produce more than 50,000 tons of PBAT per year, which is the largest scale in Korea, by 2023. This is considered a preemptive response to waste plastic issues and actively react to increasing demand of biodegradable products.

The PBAT both companies are planning to commercialize is received as an effective substitute in resolving plastic issues since it can replace waste plastics that cannot be recycled due to contaminants or plastics difficult to recycle, such as farm-use plastic, disposable bag, fishnets, etc. PBAT is an important material in making eco-friendly plastic. While PLA (Polylactic Acid), the representative biodegradable plastic product, requires certain processes to degrade, PBAT’s strength is that it naturally degrades in general soil.

“I’m looking forward to the synergy of us two companies in building the eco-friendly plastic ecosystem,” said Jang Hee-goo, CEO of Kolon Industries. He added, “Kolon Industries will keep on expanding the development of sustainable materials in consideration of the environment.”

“SK Global Chemical and Kolon Industries will work together to secure differentiated competitiveness in the biodegradable plastic market and speed up together to build an eco-friendly circular economy of plastic waste,” said CEO of SK Global Chemical Na Kyung-soo.

While continuously broadening the eco-friendly biodegradable plastic product portfolio, Kolon Industries and SK Global Chemical will also proceed with a business partnership model that produces recycled products using waste plastic as the base material.

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