Cooper River Chemicals

Thanks to a $200 million modernization project completed  in 2017, BP’s Cooper River Chemicals plant will be able to  curtail its electricity use and carbon dioxide emissions, while  increasing its total output of purified terephthalic acid (PTA),  a BP-invented chemical feedstock. 

More specifically, the project will allow Cooper River to  reduce the amount of electricity it purchases from the grid  by 40 percent, slash CO2 emissions by up to 110,000 tons  per year and boost production of PTA by 10 percent. 

Cooper River also will be able to supply the U.S. plastic  industry with PTAir Neutral, the world’s first certified carbon- neutral PTA, which uses carbon offsets such as reforestation  projects to help customers meet net zero-carbon targets. BP  introduced PTAir Neutral in Europe in 2016 and soon will  bring it to the United States. 

“Retailers and brand owners are seeking more  environmentally friendly solutions that will reduce the  carbon impact of their products, and they’re choosing  brands that address those concerns,” says Luis Sierra,  head of BP’s global aromatics business. 

“We know that  today’s ultra-competitive U.S. petrochemicals industry  demands a relentless focus on innovation, safety and the  environment — and BP is rising to the challenge.” 

The company remains America’s largest producer of PTA,  a key building block of clothing, home textiles, carpets,  plastic bottles and thousands more everyday items.  Indeed, BP’s Cooper River plant has the capacity to  generate about 1.5 million tons of PTA each year — enough  to make more than a billion children’s backpacks. Located in a picturesque wilderness on the outskirts of  Charleston, South Carolina, Cooper River celebrated its  40th anniversary in 2018. 

Over the past four decades, the plant has compiled a  distinguished record of conservation leadership, which  its employees exemplify through their support for nearby  wildlife initiatives. 

Cooper River’s production facilities are surrounded by dense  forests and wetlands featuring a rich ecosystem of plants  and animals indigenous to the South Carolina Lowcountry,  including longleaf pines, turkeys, white-tailed deer, wood  ducks, bluebirds and red-cockaded woodpeckers. The forests and wetlands serve as a vast outdoor classroom  and nature preserve for local schools and community  organizations, such as search-and-rescue dog training  teams and veterans groups. 
Cooper River has received recognition for its environmental  programs from the Wildlife Habitat Council, the National  Land Conservation Conference and other nature groups.  Meanwhile, the plant’s safety efforts have earned it the  South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Workplace Safety  Award four years in a row. 

“At Cooper River, we take enormous pride in our  environmental stewardship and our commitment to safe,  reliable operations,” says Plant Manager John Harvey.  “We feel lucky to live and work in such a beautiful part of  the country, and we feel a personal duty to protect our  employees, our business partners and the local wilderness.” 

BP also contributes to the communities around Cooper River  by supporting science, technology, engineering and math  (STEM) education programs. 

For example, the company donated money to help build  a new interactive STEM lab for a neighboring elementary  school, and it supported the construction of a new  fabrication lab at Laing Middle School, which in 2017 was  named America’s top STEM-focused middle school. 

In addition, Cooper River employees support the annual  PTSD River Challenge, a 175-mile kayaking excursion in  which combat veterans paddle through South Carolina  waterways to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress  and veteran suicide.