Circularity

Our approach

At Dow, our vision for turning the tide on plastic waste is centered on solving challenges: from designing for recyclability at the beginning of a product’s life to encouraging local infrastructure to close the loop. The issue is complex, and through partnerships, we are working across the value chain to improve collection, access to recycling, and processing infrastructure. We also are creating new business models that will impact the overall recycling rates of plastics. Improving circularity of plastics through recycling and reuse is critical to a world that is also targeting carbon emissions reduction. The lower-carbon benefits of polyethylene-based packaging serve as a key driver and source of value. Moving to circular products means incorporating recycling feedstocks from waste instead of more extraction of fossil fuels.

2021 highlights
23,000

metric tons of plastic waste collected, reused or recycled—up from 8,000 metric tons in 2020

85%

enabling 85% of Dow products sold into packaging applications to be reusable or recyclable

$100MM

in revenue in 2021 – Building a recyclable and renewable business

Stop the Waste

Our Stop the Waste target is aimed at significantly increasing global plastics recycling by investing and collaborating to improve key technologies and infrastructure. By 2030, we will enable 1 million metric tons of plastic per year to be collected, reused or recycled through direct actions and partnerships.

We’re also accelerating progress through innovative waste management and repurposing solutions, as well as through global partnerships with NGOs and investors, such as the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, Circulate Capital and Global Plastic Action Partnership.

Investing in recycling technologies

In the last two years, Dow has invested a total of $50 million into impact funds, recycling infrastructure and key technologies to transform waste into solutions that support a circular economy. With our advanced recycling investments, all of the waste that is brought in to create circular products counts toward our Stop the Waste progress. Our actions to stop the waste include:

Investing to improve plastics recycling infrastructure. Dow partnered with NOVA Chemicals, LyondellBasell and Sealed Air to establish the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund, which invests in scalable recycling technologies, equipment upgrades and infrastructure solutions. With an initial fund size of $25 million, Closed Loop Partners invites businesses across the plastics value chain to join in advancing the recovery and recycling of plastics in North America.

Partnering across the value chain to bring hard-to-recycle plastic into the circular economy. In 2021, Dow was recognized with a SEAL (Sustainability, Environmental Achievement & Leadership) Award for our work with Circulate Capital and Lucro. Together, we invested in capacity expansion to take in more waste and develop disruptive post-consumer recycled (PCR) polyethylene film solutions in India. This collaboration is expected to divert 6,000 metric tons of waste from the environment, while fostering new economic opportunities in the next three years.

Helping communities address waste management gaps and create job opportunities. Dow has invested in Mr. Green Africa, an innovative Kenya-based recycling company. This investment marks the first of its kind from Dow on the African continent and expects to enable 90,000 metric tons of plastic waste to be recovered and recycled into new packaging applications over four years. 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.

Close the Loop

While the majority of products we sell today are recyclable, they may be incorporated into multi-material structures that may not be recyclable. That’s why we are committed to helping our customers and brand owners re-design and create packaging solutions that are both high-performance AND recyclable.

Through our Close the Loop target, we are tracking our progress toward enabling 100% of the packaging applications we sell to be recyclable or reusable by 2035. As of 2021, 85% of packaging applications are recyclable or reusable.

Helping customers design for recyclability. In 2021, we demonstrated that recyclable structures were possible for 16 packaging applications that were previously considered unrecyclable. Dow’s unique product portfolio, such as RETAIN™ polymer modifier, ELITE™ AT enhance polyethylene resin, INNATE™ polyethylene resins and more, is driving these conversions toward recyclability. A few Design for Recycle Solutions that made it to shelves include:

Toothpaste tubes: Unrecyclable toothpaste tubes alone account for an estimated 100,000 tons of waste each year. And because toothpaste is sensitive to oxygen and humidity, manufacturers traditionally create tubes made from a combination of different plastics as well as a layer of aluminum – making the packaging nearly impossible to recycle. Using high-performance polyethylene-based technologies, Dow developed a solution that solved the recyclability issue by removing the aluminum layer, while still protecting the integrity of toothpaste products.

Phormanto™ polyethylene rich thermoforming technology: Dow’s Phormanto™ polyethylene rich thermoforming technology is helping meet increased consumer demand for sustainable packaging by offering a solution for vacuum thermoformed packages that increases the shelf life of poultry packaging for up to two weeks. A leak-proof packaging technology that reduces costs and waste in every step of the value chain, Phormanto™ is made of a single-material plastic so it can fit neatly into the well-established recycle streams that already exist for polyethylene.

Growing our recyclable and renewable business

This year, we announced several advancements in our efforts to prevent plastic waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide customers with recycled plastic products that provide the same performance as virgin plastics derived from fossil fuel-based feedstocks. As a result, our plastics sales made with recycled content, bio-based and/or renewable sources reached over a hundred million dollars in sales and utilized 4,000 metric tons of renewable/circular feedstock this year. With these advancements, our company will be well-positioned to provide an initial supply of fully circular polymers to customers starting in 2022.

REVOLOOP™ Recycled Plastics Resins: Last year, using our Pack Studios inhouse conversion capabilities, we commercialized a global line of mechanically recycled plastic resins, branded REVOLOOP™ resins – a family of products that can be used in either flexible or rigid plastic packaging applications. It’s the first PCR product in Dow’s plastics circularity portfolio to incorporate up to 70% of recycled plastic. In 2021, we sold and launched 12 product grades of REVOLOOP™ resins, with applications ranging from rigid bottles and collation shrink to e-commerce bags and protective packaging.

ECOLIBRIUM™ technology enables sustainability and Crocs: ECOLIBRIUM™ is a technology that enables more sustainable polymers for applications such as footwear, beverage cartons, food and personal care packaging, caps, labels and hot-melt adhesives. This technology has proven instrumental for our customers in delivering impact toward their corporate sustainability goals.

Last year, this included a collaboration with Crocs. Dow supplied bio-based elastomer materials to reduce the CO2 impact of Croslite™ resin for use in the iconic shoe brand’s manufacturing process. While Crocs is the first footwear brand to go to market with ECOLIBRIUM™ technology, these solutions open up additional possibilities with other brand owners to increase the recyclability of footwear at the end of life.

Scaling advanced recycling. We are on track to launch Dow’s first circular polymer in 2022 – an investment in advanced recycling technologies in which mixed-use plastic waste that otherwise would be incinerated or landfilled is broken down into its basic elements and repolymerized into the equivalent of virgin plastic.

We’re doing this in partnership with a number of organizations. In 2021, we teamed with Mura Technology, which has demonstrated that it can recycle all forms of plastic – including multi-layer, flexible plastics used in packaging, which are currently harder to recycle and often incinerated or sent to landfill. We also expanded our initial partnership with Fuenix Ecology Group to scale its advanced recycling production with the construction of a second plant in Weert in the Netherlands. The new plant will process 20,000 tons of waste plastic into pyrolysis oil feedstock annually, which will be used to produce new circular plastic at our Terneuzen site.

We also received the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS recognition at five of our largest global manufacturing facilities for our compliance with rigorous tracking of sustainable feedstocks use. The certification was awarded following a full independent, external audit to ensure product supply chains are fully traceable and that Dow and its suppliers are adhering to and accelerating sustainable practices.

Operation Clean Sweep®

As a member of Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS), a plastics containment program designed to prevent pellet, flake and powder loss to the environment, we are engaged in this important initiative to help achieve zero pellet loss.

Dow is committed to transparency in pellet loss reporting. We have a sustainable program structure to improve plastics containment in our manufacturing, logistics and environmental facilities worldwide, including auditing, reporting and substantial facility investments. Management systems have been implemented across the value stream, driving progress in manufacturing, logistics and commercial operations. In 2021, two events occurred that resulted in greater than 0.5kg of plastic pellet losses outside our company-operated facilities.

We also are actively working with suppliers, logistics service providers and customers to implement similar robust systems focused on proactive plastics containment. In 2021, we expanded our leadership by incorporating OCS in-sourcing activities, operational performance metrics and supplier relationship management. Our logistics service providers that actively handle plastic pellets are pledged to OCS and have implemented the OCS guidance to reduce the risk of pellet loss. To ensure accountability and joint improvement toward a zero-pellet loss supply chain, standardized OCS contractual language was included in existing agreements. With support from the logistics service providers, we have completed a strategic risk review of the providers that handle packed plastic pellets. Together, we are identifying areas of risk and continuously developing a gap closure plan.

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