SK Geo Centric and PureCycle Announce Location of Asia’s First Polypropylene Recycling Plant

SKGC and PureCycle announced that Ulsan, South Korea will be the location of the first polypropylene recycling plant in Asia.

■ SKGC conducted extensive research and technical due diligence into PureCycle’s technology, which is designed to produce ultra-pure recycled plastic from polypropylene waste. PureCycle’s technology combined with SKGC’s expertise in polypropylene production and marketing, will further both companies’ mission to tackle plastic waste.

■ SKGC will accelerate its commitment to creating a circular economy for plastics by maximizing synergy effects between its top three advanced recycling technologies: pyrolysis, PET de-polymerization, and recycled polypropylene.

SK Geo Centric (hereafter “SKGC”) and PureCycle Technologies (hereafter “PureCycle”), a U.S. advanced recycling company revolutionizing plastic waste, signed a non-binding Heads of Agreement (“HOA” or “term sheet”) to open Asia’s first recycled polypropylene (PP) plant in Ulsan, South Korea. The facility is expected to have an annual capacity of 60,000 tons and an expected completion end of 2024. The HOA progresses the business relationship between the two companies, which initiated in August 2021 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Na Kyung-soo, President and CEO of SKGC, visited PureCycle Technologies’ Feedstock Evaluation Unit, a R&D facility and demonstration plant, in Ohio in November 2021 to evaluate its solvent extraction technology and discuss collaboration plans to deepen the relationship. On January 6 (PST), at CES 2022, SKGC and PureCycle agreed to key terms that will be included in the joint venture agreement to be negotiated between the two companies.

PP is a plastic used widely in everything from consumer products and food packaging to automotive interior materials. Because of the common practice of combining PP with other materials and additives, there have been limitations in traditional mechanical recycling to separate contaminants and produce a like-new recycled plastic. The cooperation between the two companies is designed to create a joint venture built in Ulsan that will not only recycle plastic waste and provide South Korea with ultra-pure recycled (UPR) plastic, but also be able to develop diverse consumer products.

PureCycle is the world’s only company that has proprietary technology to separate contaminants, odors, and colors from PP plastic waste to transform it into UPR plastic. This technology can be used for commercial production and to recycle contaminated food storage containers, colored detergent bottles, and automotive interior plastic–which are mostly incinerated because it is difficult to recycle them–into UPR. PureCycle is building its facilities in Ohio and Georgia, the U.S.

SKGC is a global leader in PP production and has deep technological capabilities, and wide marketing reach in Asia. The partnership between the two companies will combine SKGC’s strengths with PureCycle’s purification technology to supply a premium recycled plastic resin to the growing market. PureCycle will leverage its plant module construction processes and partnerships to accelerate the building of the plant in South Korea.

This will laid the groundwork for SKGC to further accelerate its Financial Story of recycling 100% of the plastic it will produce globally by 2027, which is equivalent to 2.5 million tons.

After signing the HOA, the executives of the two companies tour around SK exhibition hall at CES 2022 together to explore the carbon reduction and Net Zero strategies. Here, they also tested the unmanned plastic cup return machine that applied SK Telecom’s AI technology and used reusable cups made from PureCycle’s ultra-pure recycled polypropylene.

Kim Jun, Vice Chairman and CEO of SK Innovation, mother company of SKGC, said “SKGC will play a major role in SK Innovation’s ‘Carbon to Green’ strategy, along with the battery business.” He added, “We will continue to innovate existing business models and further expand cooperation with global companies with eco-friendly technologies to build a pure plastic environment.”

Mike Otworth, PureCycle, CEO, said, “I’m thrilled PureCycle and SKGC are progressing toward opening a recycling facility in Ulsan over the next three years. Combining SKGC’s expertise and knowledge of the industry in South Korea with PureCycle’s patented technology that transforms plastic waste into a renewable resource, we can work toward tackling the plastic waste crisis that has impacted every corner of the world.”


(Photo 1) From left: CEO of PureCycle Technologies Mike Otworth (third), Vice Chairman & CEO of SK Innovation Kim Jun (fourth), Head of Green Business Group of SK Geo Centric Kang Dong-hoon, and other representatives of the companies take a commemorative photo after signing the head of agreement to open Asia’s first recycled polypropylene plant in Ulsan, South Korean, on January 6th (PST), at CES 2022

(Photo 2) CEO of PureCycle Technologies Mike Otworth (first from right) tests the plastic cup return machine that applied SK Telecom’s AI technology and used reusable cups made from PureCycle’s ultra-pure recycled polypropylene.



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