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Investing in a Circular Economy

Published 06-09-22

Submitted by DOW

two cropped images left: a person pours a beverage for another right: two people pose for the camera, one leaning on a stick

Transitioning to a circular economy and ending waste requires innovation, collaboration and new ways of thinking. We can’t continue going on with business as usual. That’s why Dow is partnering to help build new business models and improve infrastructure to promote the reuse and recycling of materials and address waste management gaps.

By collaborating across the value chain and investing in localized solutions, we are working to close the loop on plastics and have a positive impact on communities around the world.

“Dow is fully committed to advancing a circular economy to mitigate the negative impacts of environmental degradation, but we can’t close the loop on our own,” said Marco ten Bruggencate, Dow’s commercial vice president for Packaging and Specialty Plastics for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “It’s important that we utilize localized solutions and collaborate with our partners across the value chain. Together, we can build an economy that prioritizes recycling and reuse and ends plastic waste.”

info graphic with renuva logo at the center. Different symbols in a circle around it pertaining to the steps to recycling a mattress

Collaborating to improve waste infrastructure

In Kenya, Dow made a first-of-its-kind investment in Mr. Green Africa to divert plastic waste from landfills and the environment, drive positive change in local communities, and address gaps in waste management systems across Africa. The investment expects to enable approximately 90 kilotons of plastic waste to be recovered over four years and recycled into new packaging applications.

Mr. Green Africa converts locally collected plastic waste into high-quality post-consumer recycled (PCR) resins, which then are sold as a substitute for imported virgin plastics to help close the loop on plastic waste in Africa. Dow and Mr. Green Africa aim to co-develop more traceable, fair, high-quality PCR that can be used in the production of new flexible plastic packaging – helping brand owners and other plastic manufacturers achieve their goals toward sustainable packaging solutions in Africa.

In addition, Mr. Green Africa’s operations are rooted in a social purpose: to better the livelihoods of informal waste collectors while also cleaning up the environment. By incentivizing waste pickers with a higher, stable income through a fair-trade plastic waste sourcing model and establishing sorting centers that allow them to bring plastic waste in for payment, the partnership is expected to make material recovery significantly more effective in the region. Dow has also supported the development of an app through which local communities in Kenya can sort and separate the plastic waste in their homes more efficiently, and schedule it to be collected and processed through the plastic recycling system by Mr. Green Africa.

At full scale, the investment is expected to create approximately 200 more direct jobs, impact the lives of 5,000 waste pickers and engage more than 250,000 consumers in separation-at-source programs. The move supports Dow’s global commitment to help advance a circular economy and close the loop on plastic waste.

Collaborating to develop new business models

In France, Dow and Orrion Chemicals Orgaform, together with Eco-mobilier, H&S Anlagentechnik and The Vita Group, have inaugurated a pioneering mattress recycling plant as part of the RENUVA™ Mattress Recycling Program.

Old mattresses made of polyurethane foam will now be recovered, dismantled and chemically recycled to create a new polyol, which is a key material to produce polyurethane foam. RENUVA™ polyol is designed for various applications, including mattresses. This effort marks a major step forward for closing the loop for end-of-life mattresses. At full capacity, the plant will process up to 200,000 mattresses per year to tackle the growing mattress waste problem.

liby detergent package front and back, in a foreign language

Collaborating to produce new, recyclable packaging

In 2020, we worked with Liby, a leading Chinese laundry brand, to design for recyclability and produce the first packaging for laundry pods considered fully recyclable in China. Since then, our recyclable packaging solutions have been adopted for use in nine of Liby’s products. Enabled by our INNATE™ TF Polyethylene Resins for Tenter Frame Biaxial Orientation (TF-BOPE), Liby’s recyclable packaging earned the first easy-to-collect and easy-to regenerate label in China, which helps consumers distinguish recyclable packaging from other packaging. In addition, Liby has adopted recyclable packaging made with our PCR resins converted from post-use plastic provided by our recycling partner, Lovere.

As part of our 2025 Advancing a Circular Economy goal, Dow is committed to collaborating with key stakeholders across the value chain to promote innovative and sustainable packaging solutions, driving the healthy and sustainable development of the plastics industry. This collaboration further advances Dow’s sustainability target to stop the waste by enabling 1 million metric tons of plastic to be collected, reused or recycled through its direct actions and partnerships by 2030. Dow also aims to close the loop by enabling 100% of Dow products sold into packaging applications to be reusable or recyclable by 2035.

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