LG Chem advances into plastic waste recycling, eyes replacing fossil fuels

LG Chem's complex in South Chungcheong Province / Courtesy of LG Chem

By Baek Byung-yeul

LG Chem is venturing into the chemical recycling of plastic waste as part of its efforts to join the global movement to reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions, the company said Tuesday.

To that end, the company has decided to build a hydrothermal recycling facility in its complex here. It has also joined hands with U.K.-based Mura Technology and its U.S. partner, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).

"We will build the country's first supercritical recycled oil plant in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, with an annual production capacity of 20,000 tons, by the first quarter of 2024," an LG Chem official stated.

Recycled oil is a renewable fuel that can be extracted from plastic waste. It also can be used as a raw material for the production of new plastic products. The facility will use supercritical water as a chemical recycling technology to convert mixed plastics into fossil fuel-replacement oils.

LG Chem will cooperate with Mura Technology, which possesses hydrothermal plastic recycling technology, a proprietary chemical recycling technology using supercritical water. LG Chem has invested in the U.K. firm and is a licensee of the firm's plastic recycling technology. LG has also secured a contract regarding a technology license and basic engineering package by KBR, a global licensing and engineering partner of Mura.

LG Chem expects that the new facility will have the industry's highest productivity, because more than 80 percent of plastic waste can be converted into renewable oils, which can replace fossil fuels. Also, the remaining 20 percent of byproduct gases can be reused as an energy source for operating the relevant facilities.

Industry data shows that global chemical recycling is expected to grow to 3.3 million tons of recycled oil extracted from plastic waste by 2030, up from 700,000 tons in 2020. The company said it will also consider expanding its facility once the recycling plant goes into full operation in 2024.

"This is a very significant milestone, in that chemical recycling facilities will be internalized through cooperation with leading global companies in sustainable technologies, so as to accelerate the establishment of a circular economy of plastic resources," said Noh Kug-lae, president of LG Chem's petrochemical business.

Baek Byung-yeul baekby@koreatimes.co.kr

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