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Dow Invests In Plastic Recycling Process With Start-up Plastogaz

Jonathan Chng

Single-use plastic has been one of the hardest plastics to recycle. But with the recent strategic partnership between Dow – one of the world’s largest diversified chemical companies – and Plastogaz – a Swiss technology and recycling startup – recycling plastic is taking on a new dimension.

Dow’s investment in the startup will help to convert plastic waste to feedstock, thereby improving the circularity of plastics and reducing their carbon footprint. This carbon efficiency will help to keep hard-to-recycle plastics traditionally out of landfills by closing the loop on plastic waste and protecting the environment.

Plastogaz, based in Lausanne, is a Swiss spinoff from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and was a Venture Kick winner in 2019 one of the TOP 100 Swiss Startups in 2021. The company uses a proprietary catalytic hydrocracking technology to transform alternative feedstock such as plastic waste into value-added products like Circular Naphtha.

Photo Courtesy Louis Reed

The advantage of using proprietary catalytic processes and hydrogen is the lower consumption of energy in comparison to traditional thermal processes such as incineration and pyrolysis. As a result, it is more efficient and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions than other advanced recycling technologies.

“Advanced recycling requires highly controlled steps before plastic waste is converted to high-quality hydrocarbons, sufficient to recreate virgin-like plastics, and this technology promises to further simplify the process from waste to circular feedstock and then circular polymers,” noted a recent statement announcing the partnership. “Ultimately, this aims to both increase the carbon yields of advanced recycling (efficiency) and to minimize the energy needs for advanced recycling, hence fostering a more circular economy at a lower CO2 footprint. The joint aim is to accelerate the commercialization of this process.”

Most plastics are currently recycled by using conventional, mechanical recycling. This innovative technology will help to recycle traditionally hard-to-recycle plastics such as single-use, multi-layer, and flexible plastics that are used in packaging. These are frequently burned or sent to landfills, polluting the environment.

Plastogaz’s end goal is to create products that can be used in food-contact packaging. In addition, there would be no limit to the number of times those plastics can be recycled and reused. Compared to incineration, the process is expected to save about 1.5 tons of CO2 per ton of plastic recycled.

“Plastic pollution is a global crisis, and our main goal is to eliminate millions of tons of plastic waste every year and return it to the valuable resource that it is, so it can go on to be used again in a more circular and sustainable way,” said Felix Bobbink, founder of Plastogaz.

“We want to change the way the world thinks about plastics – not as something to throw away, but as a product that can be used over and over again, sustainably and without damaging our natural environment. If we want to make long-lasting change, we need to work with like-minded and ambitious partners like Dow who have the potential to scale our technology.”

Dow will bring global reach and materials science to this strategic partnership as it strives to provide more sustainable products and processes worldwide. The investment is led by Dow Venture Capital, a strategic investment arm of Dow.

Photo Courtesy FLY D

Dow operates 104 manufacturing sites in 31 countries, producing a broad range of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings, and silicones for the packaging, mobility, infrastructure, and consumer markets.

The company has set specific carbon neutrality goals for 2050 and plans to eliminate plastic waste from the environment. Its mid-term goals include the elimination of five million metric tons, or 15%, of its net annual carbon emissions by 2030, compared to its 2020 baseline. 

By 2030, the company also strives to collect, reuse or recycle one million metric tons of plastic through its direct actions and strategic partnerships. Dow’s goal is to close the loop by 2035 by enabling 100% of its products sold into packaging applications to be recyclable or reusable. It intends to become carbon neutral in Scopes 1, 2, and 3 by 2050.

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