Avangard Innovative to supply Dow with PCR pellets
Rick Perez of Avangard Innovative poses with bales of film at the company's Houston location.
Craig Hartley

Avangard Innovative to supply Dow with PCR pellets

Dow says it will offer its first recycled-content products in North America later this year.

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January 15, 2020

Midland, Michigan-based Dow says it has signed an exclusive supply agreement with Houston-based Avangard Innovative LP (AI). Under the agreement, Avangard will supply postconsumer resin (PCR) made from film the company recovers and reprocesses. Dow says this is a significant addition to its plastic circularity portfolio that is aligned with the company’s goal to advance the circular economy for plastics and minimize waste in the environment.

The companies say they expect to begin offering Dow’s first-ever PCR-based products later this year to North American customers that demand stronger sustainability profiles in targeted applications, such as liners, shrink wrap and protective packaging, among others. Dow says it initially will use PCR from Avangard to create linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) products.

In a conference call to announce the agreement, representatives from the companies declined to provide specifics on the total volume of PCR that Avangard will supply to Dow under the terms of the agreement.

“We’re giving our customers the tools they need to supply consumers with products made from recycled plastic, like the liners they place into their waste bins and the shrink wrap they use to bundle and ship packaged goods,” says Victor Zapata, Dow’s recycling commercial director for Latin America and North America. “This collaboration combines AI’s waste collection and sortation technology with Dow’s materials science expertise, application expertise and operational scale to bring a consistent processing, reliable supply of PCR-based LLDPE and LDPE to our customers throughout North America.”

“Any plastic lost to the environment as waste is unacceptable,” says Nestor de Mattos, Dow North America commercial vice president for Packaging & Specialty Plastics. “That’s why we’re collaborating with Avangard to advance new solutions that maintain the value of used plastics. Not only does this effort help Dow meet its sustainability goals, it will help our customers reach their own sustainability objectives, furthering the shift toward a circular economy for plastics.”

The exclusive agreement to supply Dow with PCR to combine with virgin resins to create new LLDPE and LDPE products follows Avangard’s announcement that it is expanding its film collection and sortation business, which will be facilitated by the addition of a second plant in Waller, Texas, and by new plants in Nevada and Mexico.

Jon Stephens, chief operating officer at Avangard Innovative, said in the Jan. 13 press conference about the partnership that the new plant in Waller in the Houston metropolitan area will be able to produce 100 million pounds of PCR from film annually. This is double the capacity of the company’s existing plant in Houston. He declined to comment on how the plant is being funded or to go into detail about what makes Avangard’s process unique to other recyclers that are providing PCR from recovered film.  

“The combination of our collaboration with Dow and our planned expansion makes this a very exciting time for Avangard,” says Rick Perez, Avangard CEO. “We’ve built film collection and sortation experience over 35 years, uniquely positioning us to deliver PCR materials that will allow Dow to develop circular products for its customers.”

Julie Zaniewski, sustainability director for Dow’s North American Packaging & Specialty Plastics business, said the PCR supplied by Avangard will be used in shrink wrap, bag liners and other nonfood-grade products initially and will be Dow’s first PCR-based innovation in North America to help customers meet their circularity goals.

“We see Avangard as an innovator,” she said. “They have technology that most others do not have and expertise in sortation and collection of materials. “That along with our expertise on the compatibilization areas, we are able to provide different opportunities for our customers and different tools and such to drive forward and also provide that scale.”  

She added that it will take some work to understand what the best applications and inclusion rates are for the Avangard-supplied PCR and what kind of compatibilizers are needed.

“We’re aiming at having a significant supply and more importantly a high-quality supply,” Zaniewski said. “Understanding the entire value chain … is more important for us right now.”

She added, “We expect this to be catalytic, too.”