The plant is expected to annually produce 70,000 tonnes of PBAT biodegradable plastic products, 59,500 tonnes of PBS biodegradable plastic products, and 6,300 tonnes of THF solvent byproducts

SKC biodegradable material facility in Vietnam

SKC received IRC for the Vietnamese biodegradable material production facility in September 2023. (Credit: SKC)

SKC, the chemical division of the South Korean conglomerate SK Group, has initiated construction of a biodegradable material production facility in Hai Phong City, Vietnam.

The facility is slated to become the world’s largest polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) production factory.

Located in the Dinh Vu Industrial Park, the biodegradable material production project is projected to entail an investment exceeding VND11.8 trillion ($90.3m) by 2030.

SKC has set a construction completion date for June 2025, and operational commencement in September 2025. Prior to the start of operations, a trial run is scheduled for July 2025, reported The Star.

The launch of construction follows the receipt of an investor registration certificate (IRC) from Hai Phong City last September.

The plant, covering 22,389m2, is expected to annually produce 70,000 tonnes of PBAT biodegradable plastic products, 59,500 tonnes of polybutylene succinate (PBS) biodegradable plastic products, and 6,300 tonnes of tetrahydrofuran (THF) solvent byproducts.

Additionally, SKC has secured another site nearby for future expansion as a launchpad for further global expansion.

According to SKC, biodegradable material, which is often referred to as ‘perishable plastic,’ serves as an alternative to traditional plastic.

With increasing public awareness about the need to minimise disposable goods and the rise in related regulations, the market for biodegradable materials is experiencing rapid growth. Industry experts predict that the global market for these materials will expand at an annual rate of over 20% going forward, said the South Korean firm.

Haiphong People’s Committee Deputy Chairman Le Anh Quan, emphasised the project’s importance, highlighting its role in addressing global plastic waste pollution and advancing the plastics industry towards a sustainable, green, and circular economy.

The initiative aligns with Vietnam’s RE 100 clean energy initiative, ensuring the electricity of the biodegradable material facility is sourced entirely from renewable energy.

Furthermore, SKC plans to develop high-strength PBAT using nanocellulose, enhancing the bioplastic’s application in textiles and nonwovens.

This move aims to extend the utility of PBAT, traditionally used in food packaging films and shopping bags, to broader industrial uses.