“Thanks to a unique and hybrid technology, our ambition is to recycle all flexible plastics by 2035” Fabrice Digonnet (Dow)

Can you present the recently announced collaboration between the Dow Group and Valoregen?

On the one hand, Dow is one of the world leaders in the manufacture of resins for flexible packaging, with a strong dimension of technical innovation. On the other hand, Valoregen offers a new industrial model for the manufacture of regenerated plastic material. This last project, worth around 17 million euros per year, will start its production site in Lot-et-Garonne in the first quarter of 2023. The site has received an exceptional authorization to process up to 70,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year. The recycled plastics will then be certified and distributed by Dow in our REVOLOOP™ product line, a line of premium recycled plastics.

This collaboration between Dow and Valoregen aims to produce the first flexible plastics based on recycled polyethylenes with a neutral carbon footprint. This should enable the development of a sustainable circular economy of plastics and the transition to climate neutrality.

This is a very ambitious objective that we will be able to achieve thanks to the combination of our most advanced technologies! This approach, which Valoregen describes as recycling 4.0, will give new impetus to our industry.

Can you give the context of plastic recycling today?

France is a poor student in this area… In concrete terms, today in France we recycle around 25% of our plastic packaging. This only places us in 28th place in Europe.

The rate for flexible plastics remains very low, around 10% to 15%. This flexible plastic, polyethylene, intended mainly for food packaging or for pallets of goods, is recycled very little for the moment. We want to offer new technologies to boost this rate of return. This will be the key to achieving a carbon neutral footprint.

For this, we are inspired by the example of PET, these polyethylene terephthalates, which are used to package soft drinks, fruit juices, etc. For a long time, these plastics were not recycled and since the technology was developed, almost 60% of these PET bottles are.

What is Valoregen innovation?

The innovation lies in the hybrid side of recycling that Valoregen has developed. Hybrid, because this recycling of polyethylene is done both mechanically and chemically. When this plastic waste is treated solely by one or other of these methods, the result remains limited. Combined, the performance of these recyclings is much better.

Thanks to this hybrid technology, we can optimize the yield, and even hope that eventually all soft plastic waste will be recycled and not sent to incineration or landfill. This is our goal: a rate of return approaching 100%!

What is the impact of your collaboration in terms of social and economic contribution?

The Valoregen project is very locally rooted. It has also received aid from the Lot-et-Garonne department and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It will create 45 direct jobs and 20 indirect jobs.

And more broadly, what are your medium-term sustainability goals?

We at Dow have three very clear goals in this area to address climate change and plastic waste.

First, we set a goal that by 2035, 100% of products sold in packaging applications will be reusable or recyclable.

In terms of climate protection, we plan to reduce our annual carbon emissions by 5 million tonnes by 2030. In accordance with the Paris Agreement, we are also aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050 for all of our activities.

Finally, by 2030, Dow will make it possible to collect, reuse or recycle one million tonnes of plastic through direct actions or partnerships.

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