Used x chemical recycling = new

What if old, normally unusable plastic bottles and wrappers could become key ingredients for making new ones? Through our partnership with Fuenix Ecogy, we turn hard-to-recycle plastics into new polymers (this is a compound from similar molecules) for producing food packaging and other items.


Brand owners and consumers want to see more recyclable and renewable materials in the packaging they use. Chemical recycling: process of recovering the original raw materials to make high-quality polymers again-offers an answer. The ultimate goal is that consumers can feel good about plastic packaging because, when they are done with it, that packaging will be reused. Mechanical recycling has certain limitations, which chemical recycling does not. This partnership with Fuenix is an important step towards increasing plastic recycling. 

The process: pyrolysis

As part of the collaboration, Netherlands-based Fuenix will supply Dow with raw materials made from recycled plastics through a process known as pyrolysis. In pyrolysis, polymers are broken down into oil. That oil is then used as a raw material for the production of new polymers at our Terneuzen plant. The polymers produced from pyrolysis oil will be identical to the products made from traditional raw materials and can be used for the same applications, including food packaging.

The difference between mechanical and chemical recycling

Mechanical recycling is a way of reusing plastic waste that does not affect the chemical structure of the plastic. That means: it is cleaned, chopped up and perhaps melted down for reuse, but nothing more. In chemical recycling, we go further. Here, for example, plastics are taken apart at the molecular level, after which you can reuse the original building blocks (e.g. polymers) for new products.

The added value of chemical recycling

Mechanical recycling is primarily designed to handle larger volumes of mono-materials, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene bottles (HDPE). Some plastics, such as thin films to protect food, are difficult to recycle. Thanks to chemical recycling, these hard-to-recycle plastics retain their value at the end of their life cycle and are given a second life as raw materials. Furthermore, the vast majority of recycled plastics in Europe are currently recycled in a mechanical way. A disadvantage of this is that due to hygiene regulations it often can then no longer be used in food packaging. Chemical recycling offers additional opportunities here as well.

Used x chemical recycling = new

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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.