Plastic utensils, lids, autoparts and toys all begin with raw materials created from fossil fuels. Braskem America, one of the largest plastics producers in the United States and Latin America, has bought part of Sunoco’s Marcus Hook refinery. The company plans to use the refinery’s “propylene splitter” to process low grade propylene, which gets turned into polypropylene, or plastics. Braskem says they have secured enough raw material to operate the splitter. Braskem already operates three polypropylene plants in Marcus Hook, Delaware County. Gov. Corbett and Braskem representatives plan to announce more details about the operation on Wednesday.
State and county officials recently issued a study by IHS Global that listed several options for the refinery’s reuse. The consultants emphasized the need for turning Marcellus Shale gas liquids into raw materials used in plastic manufacturing. Three refineries in the Philadelphia area have faced shutdowns this year. The ConocoPhillips plant in Trainer, Delaware County was bought by Delta Airlines, and a private equity firm purchased Sunoco’s Philadelphia plant with plans to process domestic shale oil from North Dakota. But the fate of the Marcus Hook refinery is still uncertain.