mr. green africa employees work at a recycling facility
Mr. Green Africa employees sort collected plastic at a facility in Kenya.
Photo provided by Dow

Dow invests in Mr. Green Africa to accelerate circular economy for plastics in Africa

The investment is intended to address waste management gaps and further expand recycling efforts across the continent.

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Dow, based in Midland, Michigan, has announced an investment into Mr. Green Africa as part of their Series B fundraising round to enable further diversion of plastic waste from informal dumpsites and the environment.

The investment is the first of its kind in Africa for Dow, which operates 106 manufacturing sites across 31 countries, and according to the company, will drive a positive change in local communities, address inadequacies in existing waste management systems and close the loop on plastics waste across Africa.

“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,” says Adwoa Coleman, sustainability and advocacy manager for packaging and specialty plastics at Dow. “Across Africa, many livelihoods depend on recovering waste materials like plastic, but the benefit of this activity is only supported if there is end-value for the material.”

Mr. Green Africa says it plans to expand its operations in Kenya, where it is headquartered, as well as other countries in Africa, further expanding recycling efforts across the continent. With Dow’s investment, the companies expect to recover approximately 90 kilotons of plastic waste over four years and recycle it into new packaging applications.

The companies also aim to co-develop more traceable, fair, high-quality postconsumer resin (PCR) that can be used in the production of new flexible plastic packaging, with a goal of helping brand owners and manufacturers achieve sustainable packaging solutions.

Mr. Green Africa converts locally collected plastic waste into high-quality PCR which is then sold as a substitute for virgin plastics. The investment from Dow is expected to create approximately 200 more direct jobs and engage more than 250,000 consumers in separation and source programs, according to a news release.

“If we want to make lasting and systemic change in solving one of the world’s biggest challenges, we need to work with like-minded and relevant value chain partners,” says Keiran Smith, CEO and co-founder of Mr. Green Africa. “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 systemic way.”

Mr. Green Africa’s partnership with Dow officially launched in November 2019 in Kenya to drive the collection and recycling of flexible packaging, which was not supported by existing systems. Since then, Dow has incentivized waste collection and helped facilitate the creation of a market for flexible packaging.

Dow also says it expects to make material recovery more effective in the region 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 for payment, then enabling the material to be processed in recycling centers.

Through the partnership, the companies supported the development of an app through which local Kenyan communities can sort and separate plastic in their homes and schedule it to be collected and processed through the plastic recycling system by Mr. Green Africa.

Dow’s Commercial Vice President for Packaging and Specialty Plastics for EMEA says, “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.