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Kolon Industries and SK Global Chemical to launch biodegradable PBAT in 2021

In South Korea, Kolon Industries Inc., and SK Global Chemical, part of SK Group, have announced that they are cooperating to launch a biodegradable plastic product which “decomposes well” in soil called Polybutylene Adipate-co-Terephthalate (PBAT) in the third quarter of 2021.

On April 7, 2021, Na Kyung-soo (left) CEO of SK Global Chemical, and Jang Hee-goo, CEO of Kolon Industries signed a strategic partnership to commercialize eco-friendly biodegradable plastic products made from Polybutylene Adipate-co-Terephthalate (PBAT) and jointly developed by the two companies (photo courtesy SK Chemical).

According to a joint statement, 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 this feature, the interest in PBAT is increasing rapidly.

Share PBAT technology and expertise

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 in South Korea, and abroad, as well as developing prototypes by the first half of this year.

Kolon Industries 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-how on optimal temperature, material mixture ratio, etc will be applied to produce high-quality PBAT products.

Industrial-scale production by 2023

With the strategic partnership, Kolon Industries and SK Global Chemical are now entering the commercialization stage of products after a year of cooperative R&D and aim to produce more than 50 000 tonnes per annum of PBAT by 2023.

Researchers measure the physical properties of PBAT products jointly developed by SK Global Chemical and Kolon Industries (photo courtesy SK Chemicals).

This is considered a preemptive response to waste plastic issues and actively reacts to the increasing demand for biodegradable products.

While Polylactic Acid (PLA), the representative biodegradable plastic product, requires certain processes to degrade, PBAT’s strength is that it naturally degrades in general soil.

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 that are difficult to recycle, such as farm-use plastic, disposable bag, fishnets. PBAT is an important material in making such plastics more eco-friendly.

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

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.

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 Na Kyung-soo, CEO of SK Global Chemical.

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