Biomass refining specialist New Energy Blue has agreed to supply leading US materials science company Dow with corn-based ethylene made from renewable agricultural waste, the companies announced.

The corn-based ethylene would be used to produce renewable plastics for the transportation, footwear and packaging sectors, the companies said on 25 May.

North America’s first agreement to generate plastic source materials from corn stover (stalks and leaves), the partnership was also a first for Dow’s in the use of agricultural waste for plastic production, the companies said.

“We are unlocking the value of agriculture residues in this new partnership with New Energy Blue,” Dow president of packaging & specialty products Karen Carter said.

“By committing to purchase their bio-based ethylene, we are helping to enable innovations in waste recycling, meeting demands for bio-based plastics from customers, and strengthening an eco-system for diverse and renewable solutions.”

As part of the agreement, Dow said it would support the design of a new facility in Mason City, Iowa – New Energy Freedom – which was expected to process 275,000/year of corn stover and produce second-generation ethanol and clean lignin on a commercial scale, with around half of the ethanol processed into bio-based ethylene feedstock for Dow products.

The agreement would also give Dow similar commercial supply options for New Energy Blue’s next four projects, the companies said.

“This collaboration can help redefine how we source raw materials for our products, allowing us to expand to include renewable feedstocks,” Manav Lahoti, Dow global sustainability director – olefins, aromatics & alternatives, said.

The companies said they expected Dow’s use of bio-based feedstocks from New Energy Blue to be certified by ISCC Plus, an international sustainability certification programme with a focus on traceability of raw materials within the supply chain.

With manufacturing sites in 31 countries, Dow’s portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings and silicones businesses delivers a range of science-based products and solutions for packaging, infrastructure, mobility and consumer applications.

New Energy Blue – a design/build/operate bio-conversion company – has developed the New Energy Biomass Refinery, a bio- based platform for replacing fossil fuels and chemicals by converting annual agricultural waste and grasses into green renewables for zero-carbon markets.