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A $200 million modernization project has enabled bp’s Cooper River Chemicals plant to significantly reduce its energy use and carbon dioxide emissions
Two employees at Cooper River Chemicals


Fast facts

  • bp’s Cooper River Chemicals plant has thecapacity to generate about 1.5 million tons of PTA each year — enough to make more than a billion children’s backpacks.
  • A $200 million modernization project completed in 2017 has boosted Cooper River’s PTA production by about 10 percent.
  • Cooper River’s safety efforts have earned it the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Workplace Safety Award five years in a row.


Since completing a $200 million investment program in 2017, bp’s Cooper River Chemicals plant has reduced its electricity use and carbon dioxide emissions, while increasing its total output of purified terephthalic acid (PTA).

More specifically, the project has allowed Cooper River to reduce the amount of electricity it purchases from the grid by almost 40 percent and cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to 110,000 tons per year.

Cooper River also offers the U.S. plastics industry PTAir Neutral, the world’s first certified carbon-neutral PTA. Underpinned by proprietary paraxylene and PTA technologies, PTAir Neutral uses programs such as reforestation and fuel-efficient cookstove projects to offset and neutralize 100 percent of CO2e* emissions during the PTA manufacturing process, helping customers achieve their sustainability targets.

“Our upgrades have allowed us to continue a path of operating safely and productively, while helping us lower our energy consumption and reduce our product cost,” says Plant Manager John Harvey. “We’re seeing the ability of the plant to be more competitive while improving our cost position.”

Cooper River is America’s largest producer of PTA, a bp-invented feedstock that is the building block for thousands of everyday items, ranging from clothing and carpets to computer screens and food packaging.

Environmental leadership

Located on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina, Cooper River’s production facilities are surrounded by dense forests and wetlands featuring a rich ecosystem of plants and animals indigenous to the Lowcountry. The area serves 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 been recognized for its environmental programs by the Wildlife Habitat Council, the National Land Conservation Conference and other nature groups.

Supporting the community

In 2019, bp donated $1 million to the International African American Museum in Charleston, which will support the museum’s construction along with programs and education. bp’s plant was built in 1978 and is located on land that once housed two plantations on the Cooper River.

bp also supports science, technology, engineering and math education programs in Cooper River’s nearby communities. In 2018, the plant partnered with a neighboring elementary school to build an interactive “maker space” lab.

1For any quantity and type of greenhouse gas (GHG), CO2e signifies the amount of carbon dioxide that would have the equivalent global warming impact. A quantity of GHG can be expressed as CO2e by multiplying the amount of the GHG by its global warming potential.