SKC started to develop and commercialize biodegradable LIMEX material technology that can drastically reduce the use of non-decomposable plastics. The biodegradable LIMEX is an eco-friendly new material that mixed with limestone powder and biodegradable resin, PBAT and PLA, and can replace various general plastics.
SKC announced on the 16th that it has established a joint venture ‘SK TBMGEOSTONE’ with Japanese eco-friendly material company TBM. SK TBMGEOSTONE will conduct R&D (Research and Development) and invest in facilities to commercialize eco-friendly biodegradable LIMEX, and is planning to start mass production in 2023.
The biodegradable LIMEX developed by the joint venture is a new material that combines SKC's biodegradable material technology with TBM's existing LIMEX technology. LIMEX is made by mixing more than 50% of limestone powder with general plastic resins such as PE and PP, and is eco-friendly due to low plastic use. In particular, the joint venture also significantly increased eco-friendly features by using biodegradable materials PBAT and PLA that can be decomposed naturally in a short period instead of using PE and PP.
The biodegradable LIMEX is especially noteworthy because it is the material that will lead to revitalization of the biodegradable material market. Although demand for biodegradable materials has recently increased, the market expansion was limited because the price of biodegradable materials is two to three times higher than general plastics. Biodegradable LIMEX has excellent price competitiveness because it uses up to 80% of limestone, which is rich in natural reserves.
TBM is a unicorn company established in 2011. It commercialized LIMEX, which contains more than 50% of limestone and has excellent machinability and durability, in Japan. Its products are much superior to competitors’ plastics, which contains only 30% of limestone. In July, SK Japan Investment Corporation invested about 140 billion won in TBM by purchasing shares. The joint venture is planning to enter the processed food container and disposable product market with biodegradable LIMEX, and will expand its use to interior materials for construction and automobiles.
By Global Economic Reporter Hyun-ju Han ; translate by Gounee Yang