Together for clean rivers

The Schone Schelde cooperative covenant, which was launched in 2019 and has now been signed by 27 parties, paves the way for a reduction in plastic litter in and around the Schelde. An initiative for which Dow has in fact been working for years. Because plastic should not end up in the environment; plastic should get a second life through reuse or recycling. Dow is making several efforts to address the issue of plastic in the environment. Here are a few examples.

Voluntary clean-up campaigns through #PullingOurWeight (POW) 
We want to increase attention to the litter problem by involving people in clean-up campaigns with the goal of achieving some kind of double behavioral change. On the one hand, we want to make sure that people don't just throw away plastic after use, and on the other hand we want to make sure that when we see litter in the environment, we clean it up. By involving employees and their families in clean-up campaigns originating from Dow, people also become more aware that this is a problem even in the Netherlands. Because when you really start looking, you will be shocked at the amount of garbage found here too, alongside the roads and the water. 

Schone (Clean) Schelde and Clean Rivers 
So within Dow attention was already being paid to this, and when the request came from the Department of Public Works whether we could combine the forces of various regional initiatives through a cooperative covenant, the Schone Schelde cooperation was born. Through Schone Schelde, we also got in touch with the national Clean Rivers organization. They had been active in that field for some time so it is good to make use of learning experiences, methods and materials that were already developed there. Cees van Houwelingen, Operations Regulatory Services Leader at Dow, comments: “In doing so, I have also become a river researcher and recently spent a Saturday cleaning a designated small section of Schelde bank down to the smallest detail. You are assigned a section where you will look at how much plastic, cigarette butts, bottles, paper, cardboard or cans you find. This is then recorded piece by piece through an established methodology. Something like 500 similar studies have been done throughout the Netherlands and collective reports are then made from these. For example, if a lot of cans of a certain brand are found, then this organization will have a conversation with the brand in question to see what they can do about preventing that issue.”

Want to help?
The moment a #PullingOurWeight clean-up campaign is organized, calls for it are made through both Dow's internal channels and also Dow's social media channels; everyone is welcome and local residents can also join in. Cees: “Currently with the corona measures it is difficult to organize large-scale campaigns, but a clean-up day is planned in the fall (2021). The exact date of this is not yet known, but normally the campaigns for local residents are in September or October.  

And if you are interested in becoming a river researcher within the Clean Rivers program, join Cees van Houwelingen. More information at Clean Rivers.

Project Operation Clean Sweep (OCS)  
Dow is a partner in Operation Clean Sweep, an international program designed to prevent plastic pellets (nurdles) from entering our environment. In this effort, we are working with plastic manufacturing and logistics industry park partners to further mitigate the loss of pellets.


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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.