Plastic offers tremendous benefits. Plastic packaging, for example, keeps food fresh longer and reduces spoilage on the journey from "farm to table”. Thanks to the introduction of lightweight but durable plastic materials, cars use less fuel, emit less CO2, and are safer and more comfortable. And so there are many examples. But when plastic ends up in our natural environment, it is a problem.

Dow is therefore a partner in Operation Clean Sweep, an international program designed to prevent plastic granules (pellets or nurdles) from entering our environment.

Plastic pellets were often found in the area around the Terneuzen Industrial Park, so under the 'Operation Clean Sweep' program we started working together with the plastic producing and logistic industry park partners to further reduce the loss of pellets. Thus, we have implemented several things in recent years.

  • Additional methods to keep our work environment clean of plastic pellets. These include special vacuum cleaners, sweepers, and special cleaning methods for roads and walkways 
  • Prevent spills during production and transport by using sealed funnels for filling, collection tanks to catch granules when taking samples and improvements in closed transport of waste
  • Capture of granules in water, by means of settling tanks with special filters, additional filters in discharge points, and filter systems in waste water pipes
  • Our spill prevention procedures are laid down in our ISO 14001 certified environmental management system. In addition, employees are continuously trained on the correct application of these procedures and the great importance of preventing and cleaning up spills.
  • We clean up the roads around the Industrial Park. If anything does end up off-site, we clean it up structurally.

Despite the above activities, a significant part of the problem turned out to be loose plastic granules on trucks. In practice, a small proportion of the granules can end up on the truck rather than in it during loading. If the truck then starts to move, brakes or there is a wind, the loose grains can then fall onto the street. Since last year we have therefore, together with the industry park partners, installed truck blowoff stations on the industrial park. Trucks that drive through the industrial park and are loaded there, before leaving, enter a special unit in which they are completely blown off after loading. This blows off any potential granules that may have landed on the roof of the truck and collects them in the special unit. By blowing the trucks clean before they hit the road, you get rid of the source of this problem. In addition, we have also installed a filter in the rainwater channel of the industrial park, so that plastic from the site does not end up in the Scheldt via rainwater. In this way, together we ensure that the loss of granules is limited as much as possible.

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Listen to the Podcast with Anton van Beek

Listen to the Podcast via the link below, in which Maikel Harte talks to Anton van Beek about the sustainable ambition of Dow Terneuzen.