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From Purpose to Action: Building a Sustainable Future Together
One Life Is Not Enough for Plastics:
How Dow Is Designing for Recyclability

Dow’s Pack Studios has collaborated with consumer brands and helped create products that enable plastic packages to be lighter with the design features consumers want — thus improving packaging, meeting consumers’ needs and ultimately reducing waste.

Why has traditional plastic packaging been so difficult to recycle? It’s a complicated relationship between creating products that appeal to customers, applying eye-catching design, and ensuring that packaging is safe and lightweight.

Take lettuce, for example. A delicate product that must remain fresh and crisp, lettuce requires a thin, lightweight package that maintains the perfect balance of oxygen inside and outside its container. Achieving this is no small task and requires several layers of different types of plastics that correspond to each safety function and need. Plastic packaging is like a birthday cake where each special section — the cake, filling and frosting — layer on top of one another to make the whole. In the case of packaging for greens, one plastic layer supports oxygen levels, another creates a sealant, and so on. But with so many different materials needed to make one package, brands have faced an uphill battle to source and produce a 100 percent recyclable product.

This is changing, with new opportunities emerging to create packaging rooted in recycling. Working with top material scientists around the world, Dow has developed a special additive called Retain that helps a plastic package break down evenly across layers, and enables the original pouch to be recycled and recreated into new materials. This is a gamechanger for grocery products that aim to be safe and sustainable. Another example: check out Kashi’s Bear Naked Granola package, a resealable standup pouch that incorporates multiple layers and is specifically designed to be recyclable. The Bear Naked Granola packaging also meets the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s How2Recycle standard and can be recycled via the grocery store drop-off programs across the US.

Dow’s Pack Studios has provided the space for collaboration with consumer brands and helped create products that enable plastic packages to be lighter with the design features consumers want — thus improving plastic packaging, meeting consumers’ needs and ultimately using less plastic material to reduce waste in the ecosystem.

Want to see how we create recyclable packaging? Watch, learn and share this video to explain to your friends and colleagues how we design packaging with recyclability in mind.

Realizing a circular future for plastics requires every stakeholder working together. That's why Dow is taking an innovative systems approach to identify the gaps, connect the best partners and disrupt how the world values, sources, transforms and monetizes plastic waste.

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