Houston (ICIS)-The new post-consumer recycling (PCR) resin series developed by Dow is the first of its kind and is designed to cope with the global film market that is difficult to recycle.
Dow announced the launch of its PCR polyethylene (PE) resin in North America. PCR-based low-density polyethylene (LDPE) resin, or XUS60030.01 experimental LDPE resin, designed for retail and logistics shrink film applications, containing up to 70% PCR content, provided by Avangard Innovative (Avangard), located in Houston LDPE film recycling machine, through the partnership established in January 2020.
The performance of the final film packaging with a PCR content of up to 40% is comparable to that of packaging made of 100% virgin resin, and it can be recycled as a single-material PE film.
Dow has also begun to provide PCR PE resin for shrink film applications in Europe and Asia.
Europe’s AGILITY™ CE is Dow’s first PCR LDPE resin for shrink film finishing, with a PCR content of more than 50%, used as secondary packaging for cans or bottles transportation.
The XUS 60921.01 product is made of recycled plastic collected by Dow's recycling partners in China. It can also be used as the core layer for finishing shrinkage applications, and can develop films with a PCR content of 13-24%.
In addition, Dow Chemical has partnered with Boomera LAR (a joint venture of Boomera and LAR Plásticos) to start producing PCR HDPE resins for rigid and flexible packaging applications in Brazil.
The company also plans to expand its availability in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina through local alliances.
In fact, Dow’s new recycled plastic resin embodies the company’s commitment to a circular economy. On June 17, Dow announced new sustainable development goals to address climate change and plastic waste. These goals are consistent with and based on the 2025 Sustainable Development Goals and include:
According to consulting firm MORE Recycling, in 2018, the United States recycled approximately 455,000 tons of plastic film, of which 97% of the recycled film is made of PE, and the rest includes polypropylene (PP) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
In fact, the recovery rate of PE film only accounted for about 8% of the total domestic consumption that year, which is very low compared with the 30% recovery rate of hard HDPE (bottle).
A study conducted by the European Plastic Recycler (PRE) found that a total of 15 million tons of flexible films are put on the EU market each year, of which 9 million tons are polyethylene. Currently, only 23% of waste PE film is recycled.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) 2020 report pointed out that in Southeast Asia (SEA), including Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, the recycling rate of plastic packaging is as low as 4-19%. Since film packaging accounts for 29% of the total consumption of plastic packaging, it is estimated that the recycling rate of PE film in this region is the lowest.
Although Dow's introduction of PCR PE film resin can promote closed-loop solutions for film applications, it may also highlight the necessary improvements in the United States and further promote the global recycling infrastructure, from collection to high-quality raw materials, to domestic film recyclers and returning to the market .
For example, Avangard cited the importance of advanced processing technology in managing material quality.
Novolex, a manufacturer of packaging and food service products, announced that it has invested in a new water treatment system in its recycling facility to increase the recycling capacity of plastic retail bags and other films collected through How2Recycle’s in-store recycling program, which supports the collection of qualified materials for return for recycling process.
According to MORE Recycling data, composite wood/deck is the main domestic end-use of plastic film, but with the growing demand for retail bags, especially recyclable bags, PCR PE film resin may be more suitable for the film and sheet market.
Other resin producers in Latin America have begun to participate more actively in creating a circular economy.
"It's interesting to see the trend of original producers entering recycling. In Latin America, similar to Dow Chemical, Braskem has been producing recycled resin through cooperation with local recyclers in Brazil and Mexico," ICIS Americas Plastics Recycling Senior Analyst Paula Leardini said.
“On the other hand, Alpek and Indorama have their own recycling plants in Argentina and Brazil respectively after the acquisition. As the demand for high-quality resins continues to grow, petrochemical companies have the opportunity to diversify their product portfolio to meet customer needs, and at the same time Become more circular."
In addition, Paris-based Suez has invested in a plastic recycling plant in Thailand, which will use locally collected PE film waste to produce PCR LDPE and LLDPE resins. The plant will contribute to Thailand's goal of 100% plastic recycling by 2030.
As part of its sustainable development goals, Dow launched bio-based polyethylene (bio-PE) in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Malaysian plastic stretch cling film manufacturer Thong Guan will use bio-polyethylene to manufacture a series of new stretch cling films called Nano Bio. Nano Bio will use Dow’s LLDPE, called ELITE™ 5230GC R reinforced polyethylene Resin, derived from bio-naphtha in tall oil, which is a by-product of sustainably managed forest pulp production. Dow claims that compared with standard fossil-derived PE resins, this new supply chain from biological raw materials It can significantly reduce the carbon footprint," said Jia Hui Tan, ICIS Analyst for Plastics Recycling in Asia Pacific.
The recycling of PE film still needs more progress in the market. Dow's development of recycled PE film resin can support the market to finally achieve a circular economy and its own sustainable development goals on a global scale.
Dow cited continuous cooperation with global partners to achieve a circular economy.
More resin producers, recyclers and manufacturers participate in film recycling, which can further promote the industry's momentum for global sustainable development.
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