Originally published at corporate.dow.com. Dow ranked No. 15 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.
Dow, the world’s leading materials science company, and Mura Technology, the global pioneer of an advanced plastic recycling solution, announce the next step in their partnership to help solve the global plastic waste issue with the intention to construct multiple world-scale 120 kilotons (KT) advanced recycling facilities in the U.S. and Europe — collectively adding as much as 600 KT of annual capacity.
Dow will play an important role in the partnership as a key off-taker of the circular feed that Mura produces. This circular feed, derived from plastic waste currently destined for landfill or incineration, reduces reliance on fossil-based feedstocks and will enable Dow to produce a recycled plastic feedstock for the development of new, virgin-grade plastics which are in high demand from global brands. By working together, Dow and Mura will ensure plastic has a viable way to be re-circulated into global supply chains, helping to advance a circular economy for plastics and increase the value of plastic waste.
These planned capital investments by Mura, as well as Dow’s off-take agreements, represent both companies’ largest commitment to date to advance and scale global advanced recycling capabilities.
“The strengthening of Dow and Mura’s partnership is another example of how Dow is working to build momentum around breakthrough advanced recycling technologies,” said Marc van den Biggelaar, Advanced Recycling Director for Dow. “By investing in new applications, Dow is working to meet the increased demand for recycled material from its customers and make a meaningful impact on the supply chain, helping to close the loop on plastic waste. Dow is committed to accelerating a circular economy for plastics and our expanded partnership with Mura marks a significant step on this journey. As a long-term partner, we are excited about the potential of this process to recycle plastics and help solve the plastic waste challenge.”
“This partnership continues to create momentum for Dow as we move towards feedstock flexibility and diversification, which is essential if we wish to advance a circular economy for plastics,” said Diego Donoso, President of Packaging & Specialty Plastics for Dow. “And a fully circular business model for plastics will also enable decarbonization and support us on the road to net zero.”
This marks an important milestone in the rapid scaling of Mura’s revolutionary HydroPRS (Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution) advanced recycling process, which can be used to recycle all forms of plastic, including flexible and multi-layer plastics, which have previously been deemed ‘unrecyclable’. Once deployed at scale, it has the capability to prevent millions of tons of plastic and carbon dioxide from entering the environment every year and create the ingredients for a sustainable, circular plastics economy ─ a mission which Dow is jointly committed to and supporting with materials science expertise.
“The global plastics issue is one of the most pressing environmental issues to date — there is simply no time to waste,” said Dr. Steve Mahon, CEO of Mura Technology. “Mura’s technology is designed to champion a global circular plastics economy, and our partnership with Dow is a key enabler to bringing HydroPRS to every corner of the globe. This next step in our partnership and the resources provided by Dow will allow us to finance and dramatically increase recycling capacity and enable circular plastics to enter global supply chains at scale.”
The world’s first plant using Mura’s HydroPRS process, located in Teesside, U.K., is expected to be operational in 2023 with a 20 KT per year production line set to supply Dow with a 100% recycled feedstock. The extended partnership is set to considerably increase this supply, playing a significant role in Dow and Mura’s planned global rollout of as much as 600 KT of advanced recycling capacity by 2030.
Dow’s extensive global reach will enable the scale-up of Mura’s technology through multiple projects in the U.S. and Europe. These plans include potential co-location opportunities, which will provide significant integration benefits for Mura’s plants.
Complementary to the progress in advanced recycling are Dow’s other projects in mechanical recycling and the waste ecosystem.
- An investment to build the single largest single hybrid recycling site in France, managed by Valoregen, that will secure a source of post-consumer resins (PCR) for Dow.
- A Letter of Intent with Nexus Circular to create a circular ecosystem in Dallas, Texas, for previously non-recycled plastic building on its previous Hefty EnergyBag collaboration with Nexus and Reynolds Consumer Products.
Hydrothermal technology offers the scale to solve the plastic issue
Mura’s unique hydrothermal recycling process, HydroPRS, breaks down plastics using water in the form of supercritical steam (water at elevated pressure and temperature). The steam acts like molecular scissors, cutting longer-chain hydrocarbon bonds in plastics to produce the valuable chemicals and oils from which the plastic was originally made — in as little as 25 minutes.
These oils — equivalent to the original fossil products — are then used to produce new, virgin-grade plastic with no limit to the number of times the same material can be processed, creating a true circular economy for plastic waste. Importantly, the products may be suitable for use in food-contact packaging, unlike conventional recycling processes.
Mura’s innovative process can recycle all forms of plastic waste including those considered ‘unrecyclable,’ such as films, pots, tubs and trays, that can currently only be incinerated or sent to landfill. The process is designed to work alongside conventional recycling and wider initiatives to reduce and reuse plastic such as mechanical recycling (where plastic waste is shredded and re-formed into different plastic products) which remains crucial to Dow’s recycling strategy.
Using supercritical steam means the technology is also inherently scalable. Unlike other methods, which heat waste from the outside, the steam imparts energy from the inside, providing an efficient conversion of plastic waste; a process which can be maintained regardless of scale.
Dow joins other major global players such as KBR Inc., the U.S. multinational engineering services company, Wood, the global consulting and engineering company, and others, as partners to accelerate the deployment of Mura’s technology worldwide. The technology is also backed by environmental group, Ocean Generation, which is campaigning to tackle the plastic waste issue.