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SK Global Chemical announced that the company has joined a partnership to solve the problem of waste plastic with a U.S. pyrolysis oil manufacturer, Brightmark LLC ( Brightmark is a global waste solutions company that focuses on plastics renewal (plastic waste-to-fuel) and renewable natural gas (organic waste-to-fuel).

On January 27th, CEO of SK Global Chemical Na Kyung-soo represented the company to sign an MOU with CEO of Brightmark Bob Powell. The purpose of this MOU is for the Korea’s first commercialization of waste plastic pyrolysis oil in Korea and investment in a plastics renewal facility.

Pyrolysis oil manufacturing is a technology that decomposes waste plastic with heat, extracts raw materials and recycles them into naphtha, a raw material for petrochemical products. It is considered a core technology for establishing a virtuous plastic circulation system.

“Pyrolysis is an essential technology to resolve plastic issue,” said Na Kyung-soo, CEO of SK Global Chemical. “This partnership with Brightmark will help us take the lead in circular economy of plastic and enhance our ESG management.”

SK Global Chemical revealed that the two companies would establish a long-term cooperative relationship to solve the problem of waste plastic. Based on the know-how in pyrolysis and post-treatment technology of waste plastics of each company, SK Global Chemical and Brightmark plan to complete the review process of their plans to secure business feasibility for commercialization of pyrolysis and investment in operating a plastics renewal facility in Korea by the first half of this year.

SK Global Chemical added it is also noteworthy that this partnership shows how a Korea’s leading waste plastic recycling company and a U.S. company specializing in pyrolysis technology can cooperate to solve the problem of waste plastic, which is a great concern all over the world now.

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Pyrolysis oil production process flow

In the past, it was difficult to commercialize pyrolysis oil production in large quantities from waste plastics due to lack of technical and economic viability, but Brightmark overcame these constraints. Its plastics renewal plant in Ashley, Indiana, with a capacity of 100,000 tons of plastic waste per year, which is the largest site in the world, will achieve full commercial scale in 2021.

SK Global Chemical believes that the introduction of large-scale pyrolysis technology in cooperation with Brightmark will be an opportunity to noticeably increase the recycling rate of waste vinyl (flexible packaging). Mixed from various materials, waste vinyl is regarded as the main culprit that makes it difficult to treat and recycle plastic waste.

SK Global Chemical is closely working together with SK Innovation, its holding company, in developing post treatment process to remove impurities and to convert pyrolysis oil into plastic. This is a breakthrough technology that reduces greenhouse gases and builds a virtuous cycle of plastics. It can create new plastics again with pyrolysis oil extracted from waste plastics and is considered as an alternative to block the vicious cycle of waste plastics to environmental problems. In October last year, SK Global Chemical successfully made a chemical product prototype by extracting pyrolysis oil from waste plastic.

“It is very important to strengthen technological competitiveness in related industries”, said Dr. Lee Seong-jun, Head of SK Innovation’s Institute of Environmental Science and Technology. “In this regard, SK Innovation is developing core technologies such as improving yield of plastic conversion and removing impurities to secure the quality of pyrolysis oil from waste plastic”.

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(Left) Na Kyung-soo, CEO of SK Global Chemical / (Right) Bob Powell, CEO of Brightmark

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