Forbes – Jan 28, 2021
Written by

Two of the very top concerns for the environmentally conscious are plastic waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The plastic problem has garnered more and more attention with the proliferation of photos showing rivers and bays choked with waste, and as people have learned that separating recyclables at home doesn’t necessarily keep them out of the landfill. And regardless what you think about climate change, reducing the colossal man-made sources of atmosphere-altering gases only makes good sense.

San Francisco-based waste solutions company Brightmark LLC is attacking both challenges. Today they announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a partnership to construct a commercial-scale plastics renewal plant in South Korea with Seoul-based international petrochemical company SK Global Chemical. They’re a subsidiary of SK Innovation that makes advanced materials for automotive, electronics and telecommunications producers, as well as consumer products. The MOE is focused on supporting SK Global Chemical’s Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance initiatives.

Brightmark has been working on solutions to the two environmental challenges domestically for a while now. For the plastic waste problem, the company closed a $260 million financing package in 2019 to capitalize the construction of their first commercial-scale plastics-to-fuel plant. Located in Ashley, Indiana, that plant is slated to start up in the first half of this year. When it’s fully operational, it will process 100,000 tons of plastic waste per year, and will employ about 140 workers. “It’s plastics renewal,” said Brightmark’s CEO Bob Powell. “We’ll take the waste and create useable products from it.”

The plant’s process is enhanced pyrolysis, for which the waste plastic is first shredded into pellets. It’s then heated to high temperature (between 400 and 650 degrees Celsius) in the absence of oxygen, which breaks the polymer chains of the plastics and transforms the waste into diesel fuel, naphtha and wax. “The process is low cost, so we can sell the products on par with the market,” Powell said. At full rates, the plant will produce a combined total of about 18 million gallons per year of diesel and naphtha, and six million gallons of wax annually. “British Petroleum has partnered with us on the plastics side,” Powell continued. “They’re great partners and committed early to buy all fuels produced from the plastic waste.” That same technology is what Brightmark will use in its new partnership with SK Global Chemical. “Pyrolysis is an essential technology to resolve plastic issue,” said Na Kyung-soo, their CEO. “This partnership with Brightmark will help establish us as leaders on this important challenge.”

Read More…