Finding new value in old plastics


Aerial view of Fuenix facility

What if old plastic bottles and wrappers became key ingredients in creating new ones? Through our partnership with Fuenix Ecogy, we’re taking hard-to-recycle plastics to create new polymers for packaging for food and other items.


Brand owners and consumers want to use more recyclable and renewable material in their packaging, but they don’t want to compromise on performance. Chemical or feedstock recycling – a process that recovers the original raw materials to be remade into high-quality resins – offer an answer.


“We want to help consumers feel good about plastic packaging and have them know when they're done with it, the packaging will be reused,” said Jeff Wooster, global sustainability director for Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. “But mechanical recycling has its limitations. Our partnership with Fuenix is an important step forward to increase feedstock recycling.”


Under the partnership, the Netherlands-based Fuenix will supply Dow with feedstock made from recycled plastics using a process known as pyrolysis. Pyrolysis breaks down polymers into oil. The oil then will be used as a feedstock to produce new polymers at our Terneuzen facility. The polymers produced from pyrolysis oil will be identical to products produced from traditional feedstocks and can be used in the same applications, including food packaging.


Find out more about the process.


Mechanical recycling is primarily intended for larger volume treatment of mono-materials, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles. Some plastic items, like the thin films used to protect food, are difficult to recycle. Feedstock recycling enables these hard-to-recycle, end-of-life plastics to retain their value and find a second life as a feedstock.


Not only does feedstock recycling help a wider range plastic waste be recycled and reused, it saves raw materials and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In fact, recycling just a metric ton of plastic could reduce carbon emissions by 1-3 tons of CO2 equivalents when compared to virgin plastic production, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


Closing the loop on plastics production also helps contribute to Dow’s newly announced sustainability targets. These commitments are designed to help advance a circular economy and move our Company toward carbon neutrality by 2050. Learn more about our targets.


“When it comes to addressing climate change and plastic waste, we are collaborating to find answers on several fronts,” says Wooster. “This includes innovating new technologies to make and use recycled plastic and investing in building the circular economy by empowering communities to build up the infrastructure to improve recycling.”


To learn more about how Dow is accelerating its sustainability actions, see our 2019 Sustainability Report.