At Dow, we see the role of business as a catalyst for change – as a driver of innovation that protects life and the environment while helping create business growth for our company. Our Advancing Sustainable Solutions investments aim to prevent plastic waste leakage, accelerate recycling and advance a circular economy. We do this by supporting efforts to increase waste collection, establish circular economy entrepreneurs, use research to drive evidence based action, promote climate resilience and discover new ways to use Dow products for social good.
Our Business Impact Fund is designed to unlock both social value and opportunity for Dow businesses. By understanding how solving a social problem can drive business results, companies have clear incentives to invest resources to innovate more deeply and scale socially oriented business opportunities and markets.
The Business Impact Fund, launched in 2016, has supported 35 projects to date, totaling more than $5.7 million in investments. These highly visible projects are opportunities for Dow to explore new, innovative ways to expand our markets and address important social problems. Projects also provide valuable leadership opportunities for Dow employees.
Image: Fábio Mendes with partners from Boomera, Avina and the president of Jacareí Recicla, one of the five waste collector cooperatives in São Paulo , Brazil, that benefited from Recycling for a Change.
Fábio Mendes served as a Dow project leader for Recycling for a Change. For Fábio, the project has been a journey of learning and personal development. “By seeing firsthand the different perspectives that drive a circular economy – not only at Dow, but across the value chain – I better understood how a circular economy can positively impact not just the environment but people, too.”
According to The World Bank, 231 million tons of waste are generated in the Latin American region every year. That adds up to approximately 541,000 tons of waste each day. Out of that total, less than 5% of waste is recycled – far below the global average of 19%. In Brazil, waste collector cooperatives are an important part of the recycling value chain, as they sort trash and sell it to recycling companies for income.
In 2019, Dow’s Business Impact Fund supported Recycling for a Change, a project with Boomera and the NGO Fundación Avina, to improve the training, equipment and administration of five waste collector cooperatives in the State of São Paulo, impacting 200 workers. As productivity and sales improved, so did the income of the workers. Cooperatives experienced a 37% improvement in sales volume and 35% increase in revenue when compared to the same period during the prior year. The initiative also helped create a better-quality supply for production of post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin. Connected to the Packaging & Specialty Plastics strategy and Dow’s recently launched first PCR resin in Latin America, Recycling for a Change aims to strengthen the waste management value chain in the region by impacting its most important link: its people.
In Latin America, we are working with Habitat for Humanity and the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter to develop sustainable housing. The program showcases diverse technologies that can improve energy efficiency, carbon mitigation, water use and sanitary services, while also addressing the region’s housing deficit.