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Dow recovers energy from plastic packaging

Dow Chemical in a test has successfully recovered 96% of available energy after incinerating 578 pounds of used plastic in a kiln at one of its waste treatment facilities in Midland, Michigan.

Dow said the energy recovered was equivalent to 11.1 million BTUs of natural gas and was used as fuel for Dow’s incinerator.

During the test, the firm used linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) scrap film, which is the same type of film commonly used for packaging food and consumer products.

The test was part of a $100m Energy Intensity Improvement Fund that Dow will use to develop several energy efficiency projects to help reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

Dow has a long-term plan of recycling 100% of used packaging.

Dow’s North American Plastics business plastics sustainability leader Jeff Wooster said the purpose of the test was to collect data showing that used plastic can provide a valuable source of energy and ultimately help reduce our need for natural gas or other fossil fuels.

The study results demonstrate that almost all of the available energy stored in used plastic can be captured and reused as opposed to being buried in a landfill, Wooster added.

Dow said that while most thermoplastics can be reprocessed, there currently are limited end-of-life options for certain types of used plastic packaging, such as some flexible films and containers made from a combination of materials.