Dow, New Energy Blue Join Forces to Create Renewable Plastics from Corn Residue

by | May 26, 2023

Yellow corn peeking out of the pulled down white husks.

(Credit: Canva Pro)

Dow, a global materials science company, and New Energy Blue, a bio-conversion venture, are working together to develop renewable plastic materials from corn residue. This partnership aims to reduce carbon emissions from plastic production while meeting the growing demand for sustainable and recyclable plastic applications in various industries.

By utilizing agricultural residues, Dow is taking a significant step toward building a circular economy and supporting farmers with a reliable market for their waste.

Dow’s Renewable Plastic from Agriculture Residue

Dow’s agreement with New Energy Blue marks a pioneering effort in North America to generate plastic source materials from corn stover, which consists of stalks and leaves. The collaboration will establish a new facility, called New Energy Freedom, in Mason City, Iowa.

This facility will process 275 KT of corn stover annually, producing second-generation ethanol and clean lignin. A substantial portion of the ethanol will be transformed into bio-based ethylene feedstock for Dow’s plastic products, fostering the development of bio-based plastics and meeting the demands of environmentally conscious customers.

Supporting Farmers and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

One of the primary benefits of this collaboration is the support it offers to farmers. By providing a market for agricultural residues, Dow helps farmers generate additional income while implementing farming practices that enhance carbon retention in the soil. Moreover, the five projects planned under this agreement are estimated to displace more than 1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, contributing significantly to reducing the environmental impact of plastic production. 

Dow’s partnership with New Energy Blue is part of its strategy to create material ecosystems that value, source, and transform waste into circular products. Dow’s use of bio-based feedstocks from New Energy Blue will be certified by ISCC Plus, an internationally recognized sustainability certification program that focuses on ensuring traceability within supply chains. This certification will enable Dow’s customers to account for bio-based materials in their supply chains.

Creating Economic Value and Supporting Rural Communities

Dow’s supply agreement with New Energy Blue not only benefits the environment but also creates additional economic value for farmers. The forthcoming processing facility in Iowa will source corn stover directly from local farmers, providing them with a dependable new market and an opportunity for an additional income stream. By leveraging their excess stover for biomass refining, farmers can contribute to reducing carbon emissions while adopting farming practices that enhance soil health and carbon retention.

The collaboration between Dow and New Energy Blue offers sustainable plastic production, and by harnessing the potential of agricultural residues, Dow demonstrates how renewable resources can be transformed into everyday products. 

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