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SK Geo Centric to accelerate waste plastic recycling push with PureCycle

A rendered image shows a hand of a young male worker of large modern factory holding polymer granules. (123rf)
A rendered image shows a hand of a young male worker of large modern factory holding polymer granules. (123rf)
SK Geo Centric announced Tuesday a $55 million investment in US-based waste plastic recycling firm PureCycle Technologies, as well as plans to create a joint venture with the US firm within this year.

SK Geo Centric was the new investor taking part in PureCycle‘s $250 million private fundraising via common stocks, announced March 9, along with existing shareholders including Sylebra Capital and Samlyn Capital. The net proceeds will support the construction of PureCycle plants in Ohio and Georgia.

The latest deal builds on the foundation of SK Geo Centric‘s strategic partnership with PureCycle. In January, the two companies signed a nonbinding agreement to set up Asia’s first plastic purification plant by 2024 in Ulsan, with 60,000 tons of annual capacity.

With the new plant, SK Geo Centric will have exclusive rights to supply the recycled plastic in Korea. SK Geo Centric and PureCycle will also target China and Southeast Asia.

PureCycle uses a solvent to dissolve waste plastic and extract ultrapure recycled polypropylene, used for consumer products, food packaging and automotive interior materials, among others.

Na Kyung-soo, president and chief executive officer of SK Geo Centric, said the company‘s prowess in chemical recycling will come full circle with the company‘s stronger ties with PureCycle.

“With the investment in PureCycle, SK Geo Centric will be able to boast the capability in all three major fields of chemical recycling, along with thermal decomposition and depolymerization,” Na said.

SK Geo Centric, a fully owned petrochemical subsidiary of South Korean energy and chemical SK Innovation, has introduced technologies to extract naphtha from used vinyl through thermal decomposition with US pyrolysis oil manufacturer Brightmark and Korean firm Eco Creation. It also holds a 10 percent stake in Canada-based Loop Industries, dedicated to depolymerizing waste polyethylene terephthalate plastic from bottles and polyester fiber from garments, as a strategic investor.

All the plastic it produces, the company declared, will come from recycled materials starting 2027.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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