Dow (NYSE: DOW), has invested in Mr. Green Africa – the first recycling company in Africa to be a Certified B Corporation – to enable further diversion of plastic waste from informal dumpsites and the environment, drive positive change in local communities, address inadequacies in existing waste management systems and close the loop on plastics waste across Africa.
This investment marks the first of its kind from Dow on the continent and expects to enable approximately 90 kilotons (kt) of plastic waste to be recovered over four years and recycled into new packaging applications. With the support from Dow and other investors, Mr. Green Africa plans to expand its operations in Kenya where it is headquartered as well as in other countries in Africa, further extending the capabilities of its recycling efforts across the continent.
In addition, Dow and Mr. Green Africa also aim to co-develop more traceable, fair, high-quality post-consumer recyclate (PCR) that can be used in the production of new flexible plastic packaging – helping brand owners and other plastic manufacturers achieve their goals towards sustainable packaging solutions in Africa.
At full scale, the investment is expected to create approximately 200 more direct jobs, impact the lives of 5,000 waste pickers and engage more than 250,000 consumers in separation at source programs.
Mr. Green Africa converts locally collected plastic waste into high-quality PCR (Post Consumer Recyclates) which is then sold as a substitute for imported virgin plastics to help to close the loop on plastic waste. Alongside Dow, Mr. Green Africa works closely with brand owners and third-party plastics manufacturers to access ethically sourced, locally produced PCR, and support companies in meeting their sustainability targets.
Marco ten Bruggencate, Dow’s Commercial Vice President for Packaging and Specialty Plastics for EMEA said: “Our partnership with Mr. Green Africa is testament to our commitment to play our part in solving the plastics waste issue in Africa, where waste collection and sorting is a real challenge. We are delighted to announce this milestone in our continued collaboration with Mr. Green Africa, which will enable us to have an even greater impact on diverting plastic waste from landfill and giving this valuable material a second life.
“We’re fully committed to advancing the circular economy for plastics in Africa and the rest of the world to mitigate the negative impacts of environmental degradation, in line with our global sustainability goals.”
Dow’s partnership with Mr. Green Africa officially launched in November 2019 in Kenya and was specifically established to drive the collection and recycling of flexible packaging, which was not supported by existing systems. Since then, Dow has invested into the partnership to prevent flexible plastic from ending up in landfill or the environment, support local livelihoods by incentivizing waste collection and enable the creation of a market for flexible plastic packaging.
By incentivizing waste pickers with a higher, stable income through a fair-trade plastic waste sourcing model, establishing sorting centers that allow them to bring plastic waste in for payment, and then enabling this waste to be processed in recycling centers, the partnership is expected to make material recovery significantly more effective in the region. Dow has also supported the development of an app through which local communities in Kenya can sort and separate the plastic waste in their homes more efficiently, and schedule it to be collected and processed through the plastic recycling system by Mr. Green Africa.
Keiran Smith, CEO and co-founder of Mr. Green Africa, added: “If we want to make lasting and systemic change in solving one of the world’s biggest challenges – plastics waste, we need to work with like-minded and relevant value chain partners. Mr. Green Africa has been able to lay a solid foundation. However, with a vision aligned partner like Dow, we will be able to advance towards changing recycling in a systematic way.”
Adwoa Coleman, Dow’s Africa Sustainability and Advocacy Manager for Packaging and Specialty Plastics commented: “The challenge of plastic waste in Africa is a significant and growing problem, and as a leading materials science company, Dow is in the driver’s seat to have a measurable impact and help to close the loop on plastic waste. Across Africa, many livelihoods depend on recovering waste materials like plastic, but the benefit of this activity is only supported if there is an end-value for the material.
“That is why we are particularly proud to be taking our work with Mr. Green Africa to the next level through this investment which will see us directly tackle the inadequacies in waste management systems in Kenya for the first time. Collaborations such as this are incredibly important for us at Dow, because alongside our industry partners, we can tackle the all-important plastic waste challenge, create a market for flexibles and support local reclaimers to have an additional income stream from previously uncollected material.”
The investment was structured and led by Dow Venture Capital which is focused on pursuing strategic investments in innovative start-up companies that enable and accelerate Dow’s business growth and value.