Kolon Industries ties up with Origin Materials to produce eco-friendly bioplastics

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : November 10, 2021, 12:30 | Updated : November 10, 2021, 12:30

[Courtesy of Kolon Industries]

SEOUL -- Kolon Industries, a chemical and textile manufacturing company in South Korea, tied up with Origin Materials, a major carbon-negative materials company in the United States, to produce eco-friendly bioplastics made of 100 percent bio-materials.

Origin Materials has developed a platform for turning the carbon found in inexpensive, plentiful, non-food biomass such as sustainable wood residues into useful materials while eliminating the need for fossil resources and capturing carbon in the process.

Using bio-plastic raw materials from Origin Materials, Kolon would produce bio petrochemical polyethylene terephthalate (PET) products from 2025 as well as polyethylene furanoate (PEF), a next-generation polymer plastic that is more rigid, heat resistant, and airtight than conventional PETs, which are the most common thermoplastic polymer resin used in the creation of fabrics and plastic bottles.

PEF is a 100 percent recyclable, bio-based polymer produced using renewable raw materials derived from plants. Compared to PET, PEF offers numerous benefits such as superior barrier performance as well as mechanical and thermal properties, high glass transition temperature and lower melting point, reduced carbon footprint, and cost-competitive.

"We will lead ESG management by establishing a carbon-reduced plastic ecosystem instead of just recycling waste plastics," Kolong Industries CEO Jang Hui-goo said in a statement on November 10. Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) is a trendy corporate operation method that focuses on the use of green energy and environmentally-friendly management.

In August, Kolon Industries partnered with Gr3n, a Swiss company with an innovative recycling process, to produce PET chips for various applications through chemical recycling from 2025. Gr3n's technology is based on the application of microwave technology to alkaline hydrolysis, which provides an economically viable recycling process of PET.

Unlike physical recycling that uses post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials by grinding collected 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.

Plastic products are broken down into microscopic sizes but they still remain in the environment. The accumulation of plastic wastes has become a serious global problem. South Korea nurtures the white biotechnology industry that focuses on the creation and distribution of biodegradable bioplastics. White biotechnology is an area of science that is devoted to using living cells collected from yeast, molds, microorganisms and plants, and enzymes to create products that can be easily degraded.
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