SEOUL -- SK Chemicals, a unit of South Korea's third-largest conglomerate SK Group, tied up with a mineral water company based on the southern resort island of Jeju to recycle used polyethylene terephthalate bottles into plastic raw materials and cooperate in developing an eco-friendly bottle using chemical recycling.
Unlike physical recycling that uses post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials by grinding collected polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and other materials into little pieces, chemical recycling breaks down and returns plastic to its pure, raw material form. It is an attractive way to address the explosive growth of plastic waste and disposal problems.
SK Chemicals signed a business agreement with Jeju Province Development Corporation, which produces Jeju Samdasoo, a brand of volcanic bedrock mineral water, to recycle PET bottles. "Through this agreement, we are expected to establish an eco-friendly plastic circulation system and create synergy," said SK Chemicals CEO Jeon Gwang-hyun.
PET is the most common thermoplastic polymer resin used in the creation of fabrics and plastic bottles. According to global environmental organizations, about 8.8 million tons of plastic including PET enters rivers and oceans every year. Because PET bottles take an average of about 450 years to decompose into harmless substances, plastics including microscopic-sized pallets pollute oceans and eventually end up in animals to be consumed by humans.
SK Chemicals has expanded its portfolio of chemically recycled products. In May, the company secured a 10 percent stake in Shuye, a Chinese company, to establish a stable base for the production of copolyesters using chemical recycling technology.
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