Materials science company Dow and advanced recycling company Mura Technology are further progressing their joint commitment to address the global problem of plastic waste. The companies have today announced their intention to construct multiple world-scale 120 kilotons (KT) advanced recycling facilities in the U.S. and Europe – collectively adding as much as 600 KT of annual capacity.
In that partnership, Mura will provide the recycling technology, while Dow will become a key off-taker of the circular feedstock produced by Mura. Derived from plastic waste that would otherwise be headed for landfill or incineration, this feedstock will ultimately enable Dow to develop new, virgin-grade plastics which are in high demand from global brands. The collaboration will also create a viable recirculation path for waste plastic into global supply chains, helping to advance a circular economy for plastics and increase the value of plastic waste.
These planned capital investments by Mura, as well as Dow's off-take agreements, represent both companies' largest commitment to date to advance and scale global advanced recycling capabilities.
"By investing in new applications, Dow is working to meet the increased demand for recycled material from its customers and make a meaningful impact on the supply chain, helping to close the loop on plastic waste. Dow is committed to accelerating a circular economy for plastics and our expanded partnership with Mura marks a significant step on this journey,” said Marc van den Biggelaar, Advanced Recycling Director for Dow.
The announcement marks an important milestone in the rapid scaling of Mura's revolutionary HydroPRS - Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution - advanced recycling process, which, said Mura, can be used to recycle even flexible and multi-layer plastics, which have previously been deemed 'unrecyclable'. Once deployed at scale, it has the capability to prevent millions of tons of plastic and carbon dioxide from entering the environment every year.
"The global plastics issue is one of the most pressing environmental issues to date – there is simply no time to waste," said Dr. Steve Mahon, CEO of Mura Technology. “This next step in our partnership and the resources provided by Dow will allow us to finance and dramatically increase recycling capacity and enable circular plastics to enter global supply chains at scale."
Mura’s first plant is currently under construction at Teesside, in the UK, and is expected to be operational in 2023. In April 2021, Dow and Mura signed an agreement under which Dow will become an offtaker of the output of that plant - 20 KT per year - as well. The extended partnership announced today will considerably increase this supply to as much as 600 KT by 2030.
Mura's hydrothermal recycling process uses supercritical steam, i.e., water at elevated pressure and temperature to break down plastics. The steam acts like molecular scissors, cutting longer-chain hydrocarbon bonds in plastics to produce chemicals and oils in as little as 25 minutes. Using supercritical steam also means the technology is also inherently scalable.
These oils are then used to produce new, virgin-grade plastic that may be suitable for use in food-contact packaging, unlike conventional recycling processes. Importantly, the process is designed to work as an adjunct, not a replacement, to mechanical recycling.
In addition, today’s announcement contained further news about Dow's other projects in mechanical recycling and the waste ecosystem.
This included details on an investment to build the largest single hybrid recycling site in France, to be owned and operated by French recycling company Valoregen, that will secure a source of post-consumer resins (PCR) for Dow; a Letter of Intent with Nexus Circular to create a circular ecosystem in Dallas, Texas, for previously non-recycled plastic, building on its previous Hefty EnergyBag collaboration with Nexus and Reynolds Consumer Products.
According to Dow, the Damazan plant in France will have a plastic waste processing capacity of up to 70 KT per year. The fact that this is planned as a hybrid plant means it will combine advanced and mechanical recycling facilities in one ecosystem.
By bringing these technologies under one roof, the plant will increase energy efficiency by enabling a higher yield output – in this case above 80%, which is well above the average conventional mechanical recycling efficiency of around 60-70% – minimising waste - thanks to a smart energy management system.
Dow will be the main offtaker of the post-consumer resins produced at Damazan, which it will use to develop new plastic products marketed under Dow’s Revoloop product range.
The project is expected to be operational and delivering recycled materials at the end of Q1 2023.