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Dow teams up with UPM to produce bio-based plastics.

US chemical specialist Dow has teamed up with biofuels producer UPM Biofuels to produce a bio-based plastic.

Dow is integrating wood-based UPM BioVerno renewable naphtha – a key raw material used to develop plastics – into its slate of raw materials, creating an alternative source for plastics production.

Dow is using this feedstock to produce bio-based polyethylene (PE) at its production facility in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, for use in packaging applications such as food packaging to reduce food waste. Following a successful year-long trial programme, Dow is now planning to scale production and address the increasing global demand for renewable plastics.

“The partnership between UPM and Dow illustrates our ambition to ensure the products we sell support the shift from a traditional linear economy towards a circular economy,” said Carsten Larsen, Dow’s recycling commercial director for Europe.

He added: “At the end of their useful life, products and materials are recovered as efficiently as possible so they can be used again. We are focusing on the sustainability properties of every polymer we bring to market by working with partners like UPM to source alternative feedstocks to minimize the amount of fossil resources required for production.”

UPM BioVerno naphtha is produced at UPM’s biorefinery in Lappeenranta, Finland, from crude tall oil, which is a residue of paper pulp production. Unlike many other alternative renewable feedstocks, no extra land is required for the feedstock production. The feedstock originates from sustainably managed forests.

This process also significantly reduces CO2 emissions, especially by carbon sequestration, compared to standard fossil derived PE resins, and the plastics produced can help brand owners meet their sustainability packaging goals.

The entire supply chain is International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) certified, based on mass balance approach, meaning all steps meet traceability criteria and reduce negative environmental impacts.

Packaging made from this renewable feedstock can be fully recyclable as demonstrated through a collaboration with brand owner Elopak, an international supplier of paperboard-based packaging for food and beverage.

Dow’s bio-based low-density polyethylene (LDPE) resins are used to coat Elopak’s liquid carton containers and in the production of carton caps, resulting in a 100% renewable beverage carton. This was achieved without compromising the benefits of the original form of plastic-coated packaging in addition to reducing the CO2 footprint of the packaging during production and use.

“It’s exciting to work with Dow and Elopak in the production of a truly sustainable consumer product,” said Panu Routasalo, vice president for UPM Biofuels. “We are pleased to help meet value chain demand for increased sustainability in packaging by providing a high-quality renewable naphtha for the market.”

This agreement with UPM is the latest example of Dow’s strategy to enable a shift to a circular economy for plastics by focusing on resource efficiency and integrating recycled content and renewable feedstocks into its production processes.

Dow also recently partnered with the Fuenix Ecogy Group, based in Weert, the Netherlands, for the supply of pyrolysis oil feedstock, which is made from recycled plastic waste.

Through these efforts, post-consumer plastics will continue to have value through an extended lifespan. These agreements also contribute to Dow’s commitment to incorporate at least 100,000 tonnes of recycled plastics in its product offerings sold in the European Union by 2025.


If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the below bioeconomy stories.

Read: UPM Raflatac and UPM Biofuels link up to create wood-based polypropylene film label materials.

Read: UPM tests new feedstock solutions for low carbon biofuels.

Read: How UPM Biochemicals are maximising the opportunity found in our forests.

Read: Forest-based biomass industry: Where are we today and where are going tomorrow?

Read: Deinove teams up with Dow to develop bacteria-based cosmetic ingredient.

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