By Fabiana Negrin Ochoa
South Korean conglomerate SK Group is investing $123 million in Japanese startup TBM with the aim of jointly producing a biodegradable material that could serve as a sustainable alternative to plastic and paper.
TBM said Friday that an investment vehicle of SK Group companies would acquire a 10% stake in the firm. The companies will attempt to use SK Group technology to turn TBM’s core material, Limex, into a biodegradable product, TBM told Dow Jones Newswires.
If they succeed, it could “be a breakthrough” because the material would be very cost-competitive compared with conventional biodegradable plastic since it uses inexpensive and abundantly available limestone as its main raw material, TBM said in a statement.
Limex can be used to produce anything from shopping bags and food containers to stickers and posters, using far fewer resources like petroleum, wood or water than conventional plastic and paper. TBM says more than 6,000 companies and municipalities in Japan use the product.
With the new tie-up, TBM hopes to tap growing demand for plastic resin, a global market that it says is poised to reached more than $520 billion by 2027.
SK Group, which has businesses in segments ranging from telecoms to energy, has been pushing to become a key player in the sustainable materials sector. Last month, an SK unit paid about $56.5 million for a 10% stake in Canada-based Loop Industries, which says it has developed technology to create “infinitely recyclable” plastic. The companies plan to jointly build four plastic-recycling plants across Asia.
Write to Fabiana Negrin Ochoa at email@example.com