Technological watch

Advancing PLA recycling

Kevin Cho, head of TotalEnergies Corbion Korea; Lee Sang-hoon, executive vice president at Posco International and Oh Hong-ki, president of Esol, (from left to right) pose for a photo during a signing ceremony on bioplastic recycling on Friday. © Posco InternationalTotalEnergies Corbion, POSCO International and ESOL announced yesterday a partnership aimed at developing the PLA recycling infrastructure and technology in South Korea. Over the coming years, the partnership will contribute to the Korean Government framework for Carbon Neutrality.

POSCO International aims to enter the biobased plastic recycling sector as part of its bid to expand its green portfolio. While POSCO International will oversee and finance the project, ESOL is responsible for retrieving the Post Consumer Recycle (PCR) PLA waste and further advance the technology to collect, sort. clean, purify and rework the PLA. TotalEnergies Corbion will be supporting the project with knowhow and experience in the field of advanced PLA recycling.

“TotalEnergies Corbion is already supplying Luminy® rPLA, a recycle based PLA, to the South Korean market and creating a local plan to reprocess PLA waste will just accelerate the transition to an even more circular economy” – said Thomas Philipon, TotalEnergies Corbion CEO.

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%. The mechanically and advanced recycling of Luminy® will allow PLA to become a material of choice for bottles, containers, and other food service and packaging products. The ability to recycle an already biobased and low carbon footprint makes PLA an exceptional circular material.

ESOL is a Korean Company which brings to 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 Corbion existing advanced recycle technology and infrastructure. With an expected growth of the PLA market in Korean, PLA will contribute for a sustainable use of plastics.

POSCO International executive vice president Lee Sang-hoon, stated “We expect to enhance our ESG business and, furthermore, to help our society to transform to a circular economy.”

POSCO International started trading bioplastics in 2019 and has been growing its market power in the bioplastics market ever since. Playing a major role in the eco-friendly conversion of the plastic industry, POSCO International plans to finish developing the PCR of PLA technology by 2026. It also has started a campaign named Green Butterfly with ESOL to promote the retrieval of used PLA.

Publication date: 06/04/2023

Author: Marion Kupfer

Bio-based News


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.