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Circularity Drives Dow’s Deal with Freepoint Eco-Systems

Dow will use pyrolysis oil made from plastic waste to produce new plastics.

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1, Freelance Writer

May 28, 2024

3 Min Read
Rick Lingle via Canva

At a Glance

  • New advanced recycling plant in Arizona will produce pyrolysis oil.
  • Dow will use the supply to make virgin-quality plastic for packaging and more.
  • The process will reduce plastic waste and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Dow and Freepoint Eco-Systems are partnering on a circular plastics project in which Dow will receive all the pyrolysis oil produced at a new Freepoint Eco-Systems advanced recycling facility in Eloy, AZ, and use the supply to produce new plastics.

In Phase I of the project, Dow will be the Eloy plant’s sole off-taker, receiving an estimated 65,000 metric tons/71,650 tons of plastic-waste-derived pyrolysis oil per year. Dow will use the pyrolysis oil to manufacture virgin-grade equivalent plastics at its US Gulf Coast operations.

When construction is complete, the Eloy facility will recycle hard-to-recycle plastic waste, with about 70% of every ton of incoming waste converted into pyrolysis oil.

The Arizona facility, which will be ISCC Plus Certified, will collect the waste from three sources:

  • The recycling system: Plastic that’s been introduced into the recycling system that is not recyclable by traditional methods.

  • Industrial sources: Waste plastic generated by manufacturers, such as auto makers and packaging companies.

  • Municipal solid waste: Ordinary household trash; more than 70% of waste plastic is found in municipal solid waste.

In all three cases, the plastic waste would likely end up in landfills or incinerators if not diverted for advanced recycling.

“Freepoint’s recycling technology can recycle high-density polyethylene, polypropylene, low-density polyethylene, polystyrene, and hard-to-recycle #7 plastics,” says Jeffrey McMahon, managing director at Freepoint Eco-Systems.

The Eloy plant is being constructed on 40 acres of currently undeveloped land; commercial operations are projected to commence in late 2026.

Ultimately, the plant will have a total nameplate recycling capacity of roughly 180,000 tons of plastic waste per year. In Phase I, it will process 90,000 tons of waste.

Locating the new advanced recycling plant in Eloy, which is midway between Phoenix and Tucson, was a considered decision.

“Eloy, AZ, is a strategic location primarily due to its proximity to major metropolitan Arizona cities, as well as other areas in the Southwest region,” says Manav Lahoti, global sustainability director – olefins, aromatics, and alternatives at Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics (P&SP).

“Plastic waste is generated where people are, and Freepoint chose this location given the opportunity to have significant impact on plastics recycling in the Southwest region,” he adds.

A circular approach back into monomers.

Dow will use the pyrolysis oil produced at Eloy to produce various new products, replacing plastics made from conventional feedstock and completing the circle.

“The [pyrolysis oil] supply can be used in flexible packaging products, including food packaging applications, pet food applications, medicine and pharmaceutical uses, protective packaging, automotive, and more,” Lahoti says.

“While we cannot name specific types of products or polymers at this time, we can say since circular feedstocks get converted into monomers that are chemically identical to virgin monomers, these products will be used in many different plastic applications across fast-growing end markets in our business, enabling the incorporation of recycled content to a wide range of Dow products,” he adds.

The partnership with Freepoint Eco-Systems is in alignment with Dow’s Transform the Waste initiative, which aims to use plastic waste and other alternative feedstocks to commercialize 3 million metric tons/3.3 million tons of circular and renewable solutions per year by 2030.

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Process reduces greenhouse gases.

The partners’ approach to recycling and circularity offers several sustainability benefits. In addition to reducing plastic waste in the natural environment, landfills, and incinerators, the process decreases use of petrochemical feedstocks in plastics manufacturing.

The process also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon footprint of plastic produced using Freepoint Eco-Systems’ advanced recycling process will be up to 90% smaller than the carbon footprint of waste plastic made from fossil fuels.

Freepoint Eco-Systems’ new Arizona plant complements its flagship advanced recycling facility in Hebron, OH, which is on schedule to begin commercial operations in the second half of 2024. When construction is completed, the Hebron facility will have the capacity to recycle about 90,000 tons of waste plastic per year.

When the company’s Arizona and Ohio facilities open for business, they will be among the largest advanced recycling operations in the world.

About the Author(s)

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1

Freelance Writer

Kate Bertrand Connolly has been covering innovations, trends, and technologies in packaging, branding, and business since 1981.

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