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Episode 130: Stop the Waste and Close the Loop with Dow

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In this week’s episode of NothingWasted!, we chat with Julie Zaniewski, director of sustainability at Dow. Listen as Zaniewski talks about the power of partnerships, rigid vs. flexible packaging, how to drive a circular economy and more.

Dow’s ambition is to become the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world.

Here is a sneak peek into the discussion:

Waste360: I know Dow has some aggressive sustainability targets for 2030. Can you dig into some of those?

Zaniewski: We want to stop the waste and close the loop. On stopping the waste, we’ve committed to collecting, recycling, and reusing a million metric tons of plastic by 2030. And then we also plan to enable recyclability and the circular economy; we’re committed to 100% of our product that we sell into packaging applications to be recyclable and reusable. So, it’s a big step for this industry and the organization — but certainly the right step.

Waste360: Can you talk a bit about some of your key partnerships?

Zaniewski: We work with several like-minded organizations. The Recycling Partnership is one of them, and they are very effective in generating action on the ground; ensuring that communities and cities are educated in the recycling space to make sure it works. They’re also very effective at getting the carts and trucks on the ground, ensuring equitable access. We’ve worked with them to figure out innovative ways to lower the cost to cities to get those carts on the ground. In Milwaukee and Baltimore, we donated resin for this purpose — and hope to do more of that.

Waste360: What does a circular economy look like to you?

Zaniewski: That can be interpreted many different ways, right? But if I think about how we’ve been living and breathing that, it goes back to our “stop the waste, close the loop” commitment and how that is working. Thinking about materials that are very valuable that flow through the system, but there are different mechanisms that may not be equipped quite yet to bring them back through. For me, it’s optimizing those plastic materials all the way through the system, so they can be recycled, reused, and optimized for several cycles. Ensuring materials are used in a responsible and repetitive manner that optimizes the system.

Waste360: You guys are taking part in America Recycles Day (November 15). Can you talk a bit about that?

Zaniewski: We get involved in America Recycles Day every year. It’s a fun time of year, but we look at it as an everyday [thing, too]. We’ve seen it grow more and more, and we use it as an opportunity to educate folks around rediscovering recycling. You’ll see a number of different media campaigns, educational pieces, and we will plan to have those available throughout the month. We are emphasizing the need for circularity, and energizing folks. And you’ll see a number of activities around social media.


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