Stemming the Tide
Scientists estimate that more than 8 million metric tons of plastics is entering our oceans every year – impacting the health of wildlife, people and local economies. At least 267 species are impacted by ocean waste, including 86% of sea turtle species, 44% of seabird species and 43% of marine mammal species, according to Clean Water Action.
Dow is working with companies, governments, NGOs and consumers to accelerate efforts to drive innovation and provide much-needed resources to end plastic waste in the environment.
“Solving this critical world challenge will require a diverse set of solutions developed by an equally diverse group of stakeholders,” says Jim Fitterling, chief executive officer of Dow.
The following are examples of our actions, commitments and investments to help eliminate plastic waste from the environment:
- Investing in people and companies working toward solutions. In October 2018, we announced that we became a founding investor in Circulate Capital’s $100 million effort to incubate and finance companies and infrastructure that prevent waste in oceans. Circulate Capital’s mission is to demonstrate the viability of investment in the waste management and recycling sectors to attract the institutional investment capital needed to scale integrated recycling and waste management companies and infrastructure across South and Southeast Asia. In January 2019, we also became a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a newly formed organization committing more than $1 billion over the next five years to develop and scale solutions that manage plastic waste and promote post-use solutions of plastic.
- Engaging with government. We are a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership, designed to bring businesses, civil society, national and local governments, community groups and world-class experts together to collaborate on solving plastic pollution. This partnership is initially funded by the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom, along with Dow and several global brands, with the objective to have investable localized solutions in place by 2020, which can then be adapted and implemented in other countries. The first project is a collaboration with the government of Indonesia.
- Cleaning up of existing waste. Our recent #PullingOurWeight campaign, which began in fall 2018, included more than 5,600 Dow employees, families and friends participating in 57 cleanups globally, removing more than 54,000 pounds of trash and litter from beaches and waterways.
- Innovating for recyclability. Product innovation is another key part of our efforts to end plastics waste in the environment. Our RecycleReady technology enables manufacturers to develop packaging that can qualify for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s “How2Recycle” label and can be recycled via polyethylene recycling streams such as the grocery store drop-off system in the U.S. We also continue to focus on compatibilizer technologies, which allow multi-layer packaging materials to be recycled into new products.
- Advancing waste to energy projects. In 2014, we initiated the Hefty® EnergyBag® recovery initiative, which collects hard-to-recycle plastics and converts them into valuable resources. As of March 2019, the Hefty® EnergyBag® program has collected more than 536,700 bags and diverted more than 357 tons of hard-to-recycle plastics from landfills, generating approximately 1,700 barrels of diesel fuel from collected materials and eliminating approximately 51 full trash trucks. Dow recently announced another $100,000 in grant funding for organizations to establish programs in their communities.
- Working closely with leading NGOs. We also announced in October 2018 that we are donating an additional $1 million to Ocean Conservancy over the next two years to support waste collection and recycling solutions in Southeast Asian countries. This money will be used for projects that build the capacity of local non-governmental organizations and partnerships with city leaders to develop, scale and replicate implementable solutions.
- Investing in recycling and waste management solutions. Another step we are taking to complement our circular economy activities is to drive development of new commercial recycling business models and growth strategies to monetize plastics waste recycling streams globally. An example is how we are working with businesses and non-profits in Indonesia, India, Thailand, the United States and Ghana to build and improve roads using recycled plastics.
- Continuing to collaborate across the value chain. We also are a founding member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, which collaborates with packaging converters and brand owners to increase production of stand-up pouches that can be recycled through existing polyethylene film recycling streams.