Dow Chemical Co. is challenging other firms in the packaging supply chain to convert to recyclables.
If 100 percent of packaging were recyclable, some of society’s great challenges could be addressed, said Glenn Wright, commercial vice president for Dow’s North American Basic Plastics business, in a press release.
Wright said that too many consumers – and captains of industry – view plastic packaging as waste.
“Packaging should be viewed as a waste reducer,” Wright said. “It contributes to the extended shelf life of many food products and reduces the amount of product lost to contamination.”
Converting to thinner and lighter-weight packaging can save tangible amounts of resources, he said.
After packaging has delivered a product, Wright sees other uses for it.
“All the players in (the packaging) industry need to work together to demonstrate the concept of life-cycle thinking when it comes to plastic packaging – from first uses to multiple re-use or traditional recycling, and eventually to the concept of recycle-to-energy – sometimes known as energy-from-waste,” he said. “This last idea is exciting because it could potentially allow us to make two good uses of plastic packaging, first to save resources when used in a package and second as a source of energy that we could harness.”
If all packaging materials were recyclable, there would no longer be a need for recycling numbers on rigid plastic containers. This would reduce confusion among consumers and spur greater tonnage of recycling, he said.
Still, the economic slowdown is reducing demand for recyclables.
Dow is making commitments to sustainability in other areas. Its headquarters is mostly powered by wind energy.