Phototheque VEOLIA - Alexandre Dupeyron

EcoCycle turns plastic waste into solid fuel in Korea

Posted on 29 March 2016.

In South Korea, Veolia EcoCycle is recycling plastic waste by transforming it into solid fuel – and supplying local industry with alternative energy too.

65 km from Seoul, Yeoju’s plastic waste to solid fuel site powers the very energy intensive local industries.

South Korea is at a crossroads in terms of recycling. Although strict legislation has helped reduce household waste, the "Land of the Morning Calm" has to find appropriate solutions for industrial waste following the industrial boom – industrial waste shot up 60% between 2002 and 2007. Since 2000 the country has increased its recycling efforts and has made waste recovery one of its major goals – it even aspires to be among the planet’s top five "green economies"! But that means setting a target of using at least 10% renewable energy by 2030. Operating in South Korea since 1999 in both water and waste treatment, Veolia is supporting this goal. It has run an innovative site for recycling plastic waste in Yeoju in Gyeonggi Province since 2007. 65 km from the capital of Seoul, Yeoju is known for its rice and ceramics, and also has very dynamic market gardening, cement and paper industries. A large scale waste recycling testing ground where Veolia and KC Green Holdings formed a joint venture and established a benchmark plastic waste management site in 2007 then Veolia has acquired 50% of equity from KC Green Holdings in 2015. Now Veolia Korea owns 100% of equity and operates Veolia Ecocycle. Plastic waste is collected, processed and recycled into SRF - solid recovered fuel. Pre-shredded, then sorted, clean and dry, this solid fuel has a recognized calorific value - an alternative fuel that is both good quality and competitive in price terms. It comes in the form of pellets or fibers. Relying on Veolia’s experience of SRF in Europe, the Yeoju factory has set itself two objectives. Firstly it aims to support local authorities and local industries in their plastic waste collection projects in order to avoid excessive landfill and incineration in a country that has a very large population but is seven times smaller than France. And secondly it intends making a real impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by producing an alternative and efficient fuel. Close to Seoul’s green lung region, the southern region of Korea has a large number of energy intensive industries - cement plants, paper mills, dye manufacturers. For them, alternative energy in the form of solid recovered fuel is a win-win solution - it is a secure supply, and it reduces energy costs since it is produced locally. Today, nearly 70,000 metric tonnes of industrial waste are processed by Veolia EcoCycle Co. Ltd. - from which they produce 60,000 metric tonnes of SRF. It is an exemplary large-scale demonstration of the production of alternative fuel for South Korea, which wants to convince the international community of its green ambitions.