Dow has announced that it has entered into a strategic collaboration with Switzerland-based Plastogaz SA, a spin-off of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne that has developed a proprietary catalytic hydrocracking technology solution for the transformation of plastic waste into feedstock for the production of useful products, such as circular naphtha.
This investment, which was was structured and led by Dow Venture Capital, will help to simplify the process of converting plastic waste to feedstock and provide another carbon-efficient option to keep plastic waste out of landfills, according to Dow. It constitutes an important strategic step noted Keith Cleason, Business Vice President of Olefins, Aromatics and Alternatives, and ‘advances our commitment to create circular plastics with the lowest possible CO2 footprint’.
The technology developed by Plastogaz is claimed to be more efficient and less energy-intensive than some other current forms of chemical recycling. Because it is a catalytic process it consumes less energy than other, thermal technologies. Plus, the selectivity can be more easily controlled. Fewer steps are needed to go from waste to hydrocarbons. This makes it simpler to to recreate virgin-like plastics, while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint of the process. The technology can substantially improve the circularity potential of plastics - defined by Plastogaz as the possibility of converting plastics used in food contact applications back into plastics suitable for food contact applications.
Dow and Plastogaz will now work to accelerate the commercialisation of this process.
This form of recycling is a complementary process to conventional, mechanical recycling; currently, the most commonly used method to recycle plastics. It is complementary in that it takes up where mechanical processes leave off: hard-to-recycle plastics such as multi-layer, flexible plastics used in packaging, usually considered ‘unrecyclable’ can be processed using chemical recycling instead of being incinerated and there is no limit to the number of times the same material can be recycled. Approximately 1.5 tons of CO2 per ton of plastic recycled are saved, compared to incineration.
The technology has the potential to eliminate waste from single-use plastic, representing a huge economic opportunity. According to the World Economic Forum, the ‘lost resource’ of plastic waste may be valued at up to $120bn per year.
“Plastic pollution is a global crisis, and our main goal is to eliminate millions of tons of plastic waste every year and return it into the valuable resource that it is, so it can go on to be used again in a more circular and sustainable way. 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,” said Felix Bobbink, founder of Plastogaz.