CJ Cheil Jedang ties up with SKC to produce new biodegradable material for food packaging

By Lim Chang-won Posted : April 2, 2021, 13:44 Updated : April 2, 2021, 13:44

[Courtesy of CJ Cheil Jedang]

SEOUL -- CJ Cheil Jedang, a key subsidiary of South Korea's food and entertainment conglomerate CJ Group, tied up with SKC, a polyester film and chemical material manufacturer, to produce a new biodegradable plastic material that is flexible and durable. The material has been applied to the packaging of some food products.

Many degradable plastic products have failed to attract attention because of their weak durability, while some bioplastics are very brittle compared to those made from fossil fuel. The new material developed by SKC and CJ Cheil Jedang is good for food packaging by utilizing the characteristics of polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs).

CJ Cheil Jedang has developed PHAs, which are produced by bacteria during the fermentation process of sugar or lipids including fats, oils and waxes to store carbon and energy, and can be used with other monomers to create different types of bioplastics that break down over time. PHAs are 100 percent biodegradable even in seawater.

SKC has developed PLA, a biodegradable thermoplastic polyester obtained by the synthesis of lactic acid, which can be produced from renewable resources such as corn and sugar. Its unique physical properties make it useful in diverse applications, including surgical and medical applications, paper coating, fibers, films and packaging.

PHA was mixed with PLA to produce a soft and durable material, CJ Cheil Jedang said in a statement on April 1. SKC has developed an optimal manufacturing process that maximizes the strengths of PHA and PLA. CJ CheilJedang will expand the use of eco-friendly packaging materials after constructing a 5,000-ton PHA production facility in Indonesia by the end of this year.

CJ Cheil Jedang is the world's largest producer of lysine, an amino acid used as additives for animal feed and food additives. The company has pushed for white biotechnology that uses living cells to synthesize easily degradable products.

SKC leads a state project to commercialize high-strength polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) that can replace refractory plastic materials. PBAT is a biodegradable random copolymer marketed as a fully biodegradable alternative to low-density polyethylene. PBAT makes it ideal for combination with other biodegradable polymers that have high elastic modulus and strength but are very brittle. The high-strength PBAT overcomes the weakness of tearing or stretching easily to have tensile strength at the level of widely used petroleum plastics.
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