Dow and New Energy Blue in Bio-ethylene Deal

31.05.2023 - Dow has entered into a long-term agreement with New Energy Blue for the supply of bio-based ethylene from agricultural residues in North America.

New Energy Blue is building a facility in Mason City, Iowa, that is expected to process 275,000 t/y of corn stover, producing commercial quantities of second-generation ethanol and clean lignin. Nearly half of the ethanol will be turned into bio-based ethylene that Dow will use to make plastics for recyclable applications across transportation, footwear and packaging.

The companies said the agreement is the first in North America to generate plastic source materials from corn stover (stalks and leaves). Dow added that it is also its first agreement in North America to utilize agriculture residues for plastic production.

"We are unlocking the value of agriculture residues in this new partnership with New Energy Blue," said Karen Carter, Dow president of packaging & specialty products. "By committing to purchase their bio-based ethylene, we are helping to enable innovations in waste recycling, meeting demands for bio-based plastics from customers and strengthening an ecosystem for diverse and renewable solutions."

The deal also gives Dow similar commercial supply options for the next four New Energy Blue bio-conversion projects, supporting both the latter’s ability to scale production and providing farmers with a reliable market for agricultural residues.

According to the companies, the five projects are expected to displace more than 1 million t/y of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Dow said its share of the projects will also lead to a reduction in its sourcing of fossil fuels and subsequent GHG emissions.

"This collaboration can help redefine how we source raw materials for our products, allowing us to expand to include renewable feedstocks," said Manav Lahoti, Dow global sustainability director – olefins, aromatics & alternatives. "We're excited by the possibility for agriculture-based plastics to help our company achieve both our Transform the Waste goal and our Net Zero CO2 goal. It also aligns with our ambition to increase renewable resource use, paving the way for future commitments."

The bio-ethylene is expected to be certified by ISCC Plus, an international sustainability certification program, which will allow Dow’s customers to account for bio-based materials in their supply chains.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist