Dow announced its intention to further invest and develop new global initiatives and solutions that work to prevent and remediate plastic waste in the environment.
The initiatives, announced in conjunction with the recent Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia, include Dow’s commitment to join several other major global brands to become a founding investor in Circulate Capital’s $100 million effort to incubate and finance companies and infrastructure that prevent waste in oceans. Dow also announced at the Conference that it intends to donate 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 would 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.
“Dow is leading the way in our industry – by applying circular economy logic, collaborating across the value chain, innovating new products, and through the commitment of our employees and customers – to put an end to plastic waste in the environment,” said Jim Fitterling, chief executive officer of Dow. “We will continue to seek opportunities to work with our industry partners, brand owners, local, national and international governments, NGOs and consumers to ensure that we develop true circular economy solutions for plastics.”
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. These regions have been identified as contributing disproportionately to ocean plastic pollution primarily because they lack the critical waste infrastructure to manage the problem. Circulate Capital’s investment model seeks to mobilize institutional investment capital through financial structures that blend concessionary and philanthropic funds with market rate investment capital with a view to mitigating risk and demonstrating that investment in the resource recovery sector can ultimately provide attractive financial returns. Circulate Capital expects to receive $100 million in combined funding from a variety of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods and chemical companies.
“This is another important collaboration for Dow and reflective of our commitment to working alongside partners that share our desire to drive solutions to this critical issue,” said Diego Donoso, business president of Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. “Circulate Capital’s work is important because it empowers local people in the regions most impacted by lack of waste management infrastructure to develop actionable and scalable solutions within their communities. There are many people with both the ideas and the resolve to tackle this waste challenge and Dow is proud to help provide the capital to transform those ideas into solutions.”
Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with its partners, the organization creates science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. Dow’s latest $1 million donation to Ocean Conservancy builds upon the more than 20-year relationship between the organizations. As a major sponsor of the organization’s annual International Coastal Cleanup, Dow and Ocean Conservancy founded the Trash Free Seas Alliance® (TFSA) in 2012, a coalition of businesses, academics and NGOs, to analyze and address upstream causes of ocean plastic pollution.
“Partnering with organizations such as Ocean Conservancy are essential to Dow’s commitment to advancing end-of-life solutions for plastic, as we accelerate innovation focused on driving new types of recycling processes, supporting reusability and using fewer resources,” said Mike Witt, Dow’s corporate director of Plastics Circular Economy. “Reducing the amount of plastic required to create products and improving the recyclability of plastics – while maintaining the benefits people need from plastics – are important parts of the solution that we support through research and collaboration.”
These latest announcements add to a growing list of recent commitments and activities Dow is leading in plastics sustainability. Several of Dow’s other efforts in this area include:
- Engagement with government: Dow recently announced a partnership driven by the World Economic Forum, called the Global Plastic Action Partnership, 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 U.K., 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.
- Cleanup of existing waste: Dow’s recent #PullingOurWeight campaign, which began this fall, included more than 5,600 Dow employees, families and friends taking part in 55 cleanups globally, removing more than 52,500 pounds of trash and litter from beaches and waterways.
- Waste to energy: Dow initiated the Hefty® EnergyBag® years ago, a recovery initiative that collects hard-to-recycle plastics and converts them into valuable resources. As of July 2018, the Hefty® EnergyBag® program has collected more than 176,500 bags and diverted more than 115 tons of plastics from landfill, the equivalent of approximately 92 million snack-sized chip bags or 546 barrels of diesel fuel. Dow recently announced another $100,000 in grants for organizations to establish programs in their communities.
- Innovating for recyclability: Product innovation is another key part of Dow’s efforts to end plastics waste in the environment. Dow’s RecycleReady technology enables manufacturers to develop packaging that can qualify for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s“How2Recycle” label and answer the demand for more recyclable packaging options. Packages made with RecycleReady Technology can be recycled via polyethylene recycling streams such as the grocery store drop-off system in the U.S. Dow also continues to focus on compatabilizer technologies which allow multi-layer packaging materials to be recycled into new products, as demonstrated with our Virtuous Circle project in South Africa.
- Investing in recycling and waste management solutions: Another step Dow is taking to complement its circular economy activities is to drive development of new commercial recycling business models and growth strategies to monetize plastics waste recycling streams globally.
- Collaborating across value chain: Dow is also 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.