Veolia supplies recycled plastics to Korea’s automotive industry

Posted on 04 June 2020.

As developing a high-quality industry requires significant investment, Veolia is working with local companies in Korea to recycle plastic across the entire chain - from waste sorting to manufacturing new objects.

With this project, Veolia Korea is expanding its recycling value chain - from waste sorting to manufacturing new high-quality end products.

With its unrivalled properties, plastic has transformed our daily lives over the last seventy years or more. A symbol of the third industrial revolution, it has seen global production increase by 8% a year, going from 1.5 million metric tons in 1950 to 359 in 2018 (PlasticsEurope). Against this backdrop, recycling presents a major challenge for sustainable development: the aim is to minimize the manufacture of this oil based material by establishing recovery and reuse cycles.

In Korea, as everywhere else in the world, plastic is a real environmental challenge. The amount of plastic waste generated there was 6.9 million metric tons in 2015 - an increase of 510,000 metric tons on the previous year. About 60% is recycled, with 58% coming from industry and 34% from municipal household waste collection.

However, advances in recycling are being held back. Recycled plastics suffer from direct competition from virgin plastics.
The most modern recycling processes considerably increase the value of waste plastics. But these processes also require significant investment, which the Korean recycling industry – principally made up of small very fragmented businesses - cannot easily achieve.


Value chain

To help develop a high-quality plastics recycling market in Korea, Veolia has strengthened its position since March 2019 with two specialist companies, Doksan and DSPL. Founded respectively in 2010 and 2011, these two companies are an important link in the production chain for recycled polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE).

In concrete terms, recyclable household waste (packaging, plastic chairs, food containers, kitchen and bathroom utensils) is recovered, sorted and melted down locally by the Veolia subsidiary, DH Recycling. Doksan then transforms the plastics into compact granules, which DSPL reuses to manufacture various plastic components: domestic sewage pipes, containers, household products... and vehicle parts. 

With this project, Veolia in Korea is extending the value chain for its recycling activities, covering everything from waste sorting to the production of new, high-quality end products. From one end of the chain to the other, the objects discarded by Koreans are being used to make the interiors of new vehicles.
This reuse in the automotive industry is no coincidence: the facilities are located between Seoul (the main waste production area) and the province of Chungnam, which has been designated by the Korean government as a designated automotive plant zone.

CREDIT: Main picture © Veolia