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[Herald Interview] SK Functional Polymer seeks to stay ahead of curve in green technology

Pascal Sauvaire, chief operating officer of SK Functional Polymer (SK)
Pascal Sauvaire, chief operating officer of SK Functional Polymer (SK)
SK Functional Polymer is a Paris-based subsidiary of petrochemical company SK Geo Centric that produces thermoplastic materials used in packaging and automotive industries.

Pascal Sauvaire, chief operating officer of SK Functional Polymer, says the most important thing for the company is “to stay ahead of the curve in terms of green technology, trends and solutions.”

“Recycling and the green economy have been the main trends in the packaging industry for some time,” he said.

“Things are now speeding up, with countries putting pressure with eco taxes, customers asking for eco-friendly products, and so on. We are now able to address those trends such as mono-materials and down gauging with SK Global Chemical’s multi-products solutions.”

Sauvaire is in charge of the company’s production, marketing, research and development. Over nearly 30 years in the chemical industry, he ran different businesses such as caustic soda, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide and hydrazine before taking charge of the polyolefines business unit that was acquired by the South Korean company in June 2020.

SK Geo Centric, which was then called SK Global Chemical, acquired the functional polyolefins business of French chemical firm Arkema to bolster its packaging business. Arkema’s three functional polymer production facilities in France have since become SK Functional Polymer.

The biggest difference in working culture after the acquisition was speed, according to Sauvaire.

“At SK Geo Centric, work tends to start quickly. However, in French culture, we spend more time analyzing again and again all the details and implications, even the small ones, before making any decision,” he said.

“I really appreciate the speed, but sometimes I would like to have more time to analyze things deeper.”

To ensure business continuity from Arkema to SK Functional Polymer, there was a lot of hiring and training for all the support functions that were not transferred, according to Sauvaire.

“We are discovering a new way of working, having new products, new colleagues, new organization. There are also a lot of changes to come with the re-organization,” he said.

“We are still in transition, but despite all the changes, we are and will still be able to maintain strong business performance, I believe.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges, the company has been trying to maintain human closeness through fun virtual events.

“The main difficulty is that we have to keep our ‘human relations’ within the teams, with the customers, and the market. What we did to keep that human closeness while staying safe amid the pandemic is to organize some ‘virtual cafe time,’ an activity that we just gather online and talk about everything but work,” the COO said, adding that they also organized virtual events like online “escape rooms,” and virtual “breakfasts.”

By Kim So-hyun (