Key material for compostable plastic! LG Chem throws the glove for world’s first 3HP commercialization
2023. 11. 17
2023. 11. 17
Facing unprecedented climate crisis, humanity is strengthening the regulations on carbon emissions and paying more attention to plastic production and disposal in order to protect the Earth. To keep the environmental pollution down, the global regulation on disposable plastics is also spreading out. However, plastic is an indispensable item in our life, and it’s important that we use it in a sustainable manner. On this account, many companies, as well as individuals, are turning their eyes to eco-friendly plastics such as recycled, bio, and compostable materials. In particular, there’s a rising demand for compostable and bio materials that can replace plastic used in disposable items like tableware, cups, forks, and spoons. The global compostable and bio market is expected to grow at the average rate of over 20% every year. Today, let’s take a look at 3HP, the key material for compostable materials, and check out LG Chem’s actions to commercialize 3HP.
LG Chem’s compostable products are bio materials made of plant-based raw materials, which decompose within a few months. Typical products include COMPOSTFUL™, PLA, and PLH. And the key raw material for such compostable plastics and eco-friendly materials is 3HP (3-Hydroxypropionic acid). 3HP is an eco-friendly material produced by fermentation of microorganisms in plant-based raw materials, such as corn-based glucose and crude glycerol. Taking the characteristic of a raw material, it can be applied to and developed into various forms, and is also called ‘Platform Chemical.’ Plastic made of 3HP features excellent biodegradability and flexibility, thus can replace diverse disposable products. 3HP can also be turned into Acrylic Acid and utilized as the raw material for not just compostable plastic, but also various products such as super absorbent polymer (SAP) in sanitary pads and diapers, paints, adhesives, coating agents, and carbon fiber. By lowering the proportion of toxic substances, it has also minimized the allergic reaction in human body which was common in existing chemicals.
LG Chem takes the glove for the commercialization of 3HP, a key material for compostable plastics. In October 2023, LG Chem signed an MOU with GS CALTEX to start a joint venture for 3HP.
As the MOU takes effect, the two companies will review the model for 3HP joint venture and related businesses together. Considering the future of compostable products and the status of global bio plastic market, this will be a comprehensive review of diverse means of cooperation, including establishment of a joint corporation in order to expand the business. The two partners are targeting at building 3HP demonstration plant at GS CALTEX’s Yeosu plant in Korea by July 2022 and start producing prototypes by the first quarter of 2024. There have been worldwide efforts to develop the technology for 3HP, but none of the trials led to commercialization. Therefore, as LG Chem and GS CALTEX succeeds in producing the prototype, we can expect to see the world’s first commercialization of 3HP.
LG Chem holds a world-class proprietary 3HP fermentation technology. Using this, in October 2020, the company succeeded in developing PLH (Poly Lactate 3-Hydroxypropionate), which is a compostable new material that can embody the same mechanical properties as synthetic resin. Based on this original technology for 3HP fermentation, together with GS CALTEX’s separation and refining process technology and Scale-up* capacity, we can look forward to a great synergy between the two partners.
*Scale-up: The process of a product’s commercialization. Lab-Bench-Pilot-Demo (Demonstration plant)-Commercial (Commercialization)
LG Chem is putting earnest efforts into not just developing compostable products but also eco-friendly raw materials! There’s a high hope for LG Chem and GS CALTEX, whether they can create the world’s first success case of 3HP commercialization. Please keep your support for LG Chem, as they contribute to the circular economy and carbon reduction, strengthening their ESG competency.