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TotalEnergies Carbion partners with Posco International and ESOL to advance compostable material recycling

01 Apr 2023 13:00 IST
Netherlands-headquartered TotalEnergies Carbion announced on Saturday that it has signed a partnership agreement with South Korea’s Posco International Corporation, and ESOL to develop Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) recycling in South Korea. Under the agreement, the three partners will jointly build infrastructure and technology for the development of advanced PLA recycling to reduce carbon footprint and work on emissions neutrality in South Korea.

Through this partnership, Posco International aims to enter the bio-based plastic recycling sector as a part of its bid to expand its green portfolio. As per the agreement, Posco International will oversee the finance section of the project, ESOL is taking responsibility for retrieving the Post Consumer Recycle (PCR) PLA waste and further advancing the technology to undertake the entire value-chain process of recycling. ESOL aims to collect, sort, clean, purity, and rework the PLA waste for further processing.

The agreement proposes TotalEnergies Carbion support the project with technical know-how and experience in the field of advanced PLA recycling. TotalEnergies Carbion is a global leader in marketing, sales, and production of PLA which is a bio-based, recyclable, and industrially compostable polymer made from renewable resources, and offers a reduced carbon footprint versus traditional plastics made by using fossil fuels.

TotalEnergies Carbion operates a 75,000 tonnes per annum PLA plant in Rayong, Thailand which is a fully integrated production process to produce PLA resins from raw sugar. The company produces Luminy brand recycled PLA (rPLA) which offers various grades with recycled content including high heat and standard PLA grades.

“TotalEnergies Carbion is already supplying Luminy brand recycled Poly Lactic Acid to the South Korean market and creating a local plan to reprocess PLA waste. The present agreement will just accelerate the transition to an even more circular economy. PLA is an innovative material, used in a wide range of markets including fresh food packaging, consumer goods, fibers, food service ware, automotive parts, and 3D printing,” said Thomas Philippon, Chief Executive Officer, TotalEnergies Carbion.

Posco International Corporation is South Korea’s largest trading company and a subsidiary of Posco. The company was founded by Kim Woo-Choong in 1967 as Daewoo Industrial Co Ltd which ran its business in trading and construction. The company started trading bioplastics in 2019 and has been growing its market share in the bioplastics market ever since it was incorporated. The company is already playing a major role in the eco-friendly conversion of the plastic industry.

“We expect to enhance our environment, social, and governance (ESG) business and, furthermore, to help our society to transform to a circular economy. Posco International plans to finish developing the PCR and PLA technology by 2026 for which the company has already started a campaign titled ‘Green Butterfly’ with ESOL to promote the retrieval to use PLA,” said Lee Sang-hoon, Executive Vice President, Posco International.

ESOL is a Korean company that brings to the market a large range of PLA-based products in Korea. Through its supply chain, the company aims to establish a PLA recycling structure, leveraging TotalEnergies Carbion’s existing advanced recycling technology and infrastructure. With the expected growth of the PLA market in Korea, PLA will contribute to the sustainable use of plastics.

Role of PLA in the bioplastics industry
As a low-carbon footprint alternative to conventional plastics, the PLA market is rapidly growing. The global bioplastic market is now growing at an annual growth rate of over 20 percent. The mechanical and advanced recycling of Luminy brand PLA becomes a material of choice for bottles, containers, and other food services and packaging products. The ability to recycle an already bio-based and low-carbon footprint makes PLA an exceptional circular material.

Bio-based plastics are made from annually renewable resources. Its benefits include a reduced carbon footprint, lower dependency on fossil resources, and increased use of renewable energy during the production process. When recycling or composting is not an option, PLA can be used to generate renewable energy, either via incineration or anaerobe digestion.

Some specific compostable PLA applications can divert organic waste from landfill (e.g. organic waste collection bags) and help to reduce plastic leakage into the environment (e.g. mulch films). Some specific compostable PLA applications can divert organic waste from landfill (e.g. organic waste collection bags) and help to reduce plastic leakage into the environment such as mulch films. rPLA can be used as a raw material to manufacture films for applications in both food and non-food packaging industries.