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SK turns oil extracted from plastic waste into clean raw materials

SK Geo Centric engineers stand in front of an oil tanker filled with oil extracted from plastic waste at the firm’s Ulsan plant. (SK Geo Centric)
SK Geo Centric engineers stand in front of an oil tanker filled with oil extracted from plastic waste at the firm’s Ulsan plant. (SK Geo Centric)
SK Geo Centric has become the first company in South Korea to utilize oil extracted from plastic waste as a feedstock to manufacture petrochemical products, the company said Thursday.

Formerly known as SK Global Chemical, the petrochemical subsidiary of SK Innovation began pumping waste plastic oil mixed together with crude oil into the production line of its plant in Ulsan to manufacture various products including gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel and naphtha.

“Starting October, SK Geo Centric will ramp up the input of the oil extracted from plastic waste to 200 tons per month,” a company official said.

When plastic waste is heated up through a process called pyrolysis, oil can be extracted. Until now, this oil couldn’t be used as a feedstock for petrochemical products due to impurities.

To address this issue, SK Geo Centric applied its special filtering technology and won a government approval in the middle of this year to use the pyrolysis as a feedstock, in recognition of multiple environmental benefits, such as reducing the amount of plastic waste ending up in incinerators or landfills.

“Using pyrolysis oil for the first time at our Ulsan facility is the result of both private and public sectors working together to bolster the circular economy of plastic,” said CEO Na Kyung-soo, who pledged to transform the company into the world’s largest urban oilfield during a rebranding ceremony held a month ago.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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