LETZero Encyclopedia: PCR PE – Discarded PET bottle caps reborn as a recycled material!
2023. 10. 05
2023. 10. 05
Welcome to LETZero Encyclopedia, an introductory series to LG Chem’s eco-friendly brand LETZero and their product lineup. The previous episode addressed Bio-Circular Balanced SAP, an eco-friendly material based on renewable raw materials. This time, we take a look into PCR PE developed from recycled PE (Polyethylene), a popular commodity plastic. As much as it is used in our daily lives, a tremendous amount of PE is discarded every day. What are the uses of PCR PE, once it is reborn from mechanical recycling of PE? Let’s dig into the characteristics and applications of PCR PE.
PE is one of the most widely-used plastic materials in the world. With high processability and impact-resistance, PE finds use in different containers, plastic boxes, transparent films for packaging, and various wraps. As the diverse applications tell us, there’s a high demand for PE around the globe. Then, what is PCR PE? PCR PE is a recycled material that uses waste plastics, such as plastic packaging discarded by end-consumers, as a raw material. In other words, the waste plastics that we collect become a brand-new plastic material by going through a series of process.
How does waste plastic packaging transform into a new resource? First, we collect and sort waste plastics to separate the PE out. Next, we crush and cleanse the PE to get rid of contaminants, and then melt the plastic flakes to obtain pellets (the raw material form of plastic). Pellets are renewable raw materials that are blended with virgin raw materials at an adequate proportion to create the final product. LG Chem’s PCR PE contains 50~80% of renewable raw material, which varies by product. Despite its high recycled material content, it boasts quality and physical properties equivalent to virgin materials.
In 2021, LG Chem signed a partnership with Korea’s largest e-commerce company, Coupang, to establish an ecosystem for plastic recycling and resource circulation. They now collect annual 3,000 tons of stretch wraps discarded at Coupang logistics centers around the country and turn them into recycled films. Stretch wraps, used at logistics centers and industrial sites to tie up loaded items, are mostly made of PE. During the three months of pilot project operation which started from June, 2021, LG Chem and Coupang succeeded in developing recycled films that boast physical properties equivalent to the existing product, while maintaining maximum 60% of the PCR raw material content. This recycled film, based on LG Chem’s PCR technology, is applied to Poly Bags, the packaging film for the shipment of Coupang items.
In 2023, LG Chem also made a business agreement with Korea’s largest logistics company, CJ Logistics, to recycle plastic resources and establish a circular economy. A resource recycling project is underway to collect stretch wraps discarded at CJ’s logistics centers around Korea and turn them into recycled wraps. By partnering with market-leading companies for the recovery of plastic resources, LG Chem is leading the humanity’s mission of carbon reduction.
With quality and physical properties equivalent to virgin materials, PCR PE can be applied to wherever traditional PE came of use. Currently, PCR PE is commonly found in flexible packaging, stretch wraps, heavy packaging bags, and blow containers, etc. It can also be applied to industrial palettes, shipping boxes, PET bottle caps, pipes, and protection films, etc. where traditional HDPE and LDPE are used.
Today, we looked at the characteristics and applications of PCR PE. Next LETZero Encyclopedia will return with a story of Bio-Circular Balanced PVC.