MIDLAND, MI - The Dow Chemical Company and Crystalsev, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture that will design and build a facility in Brazil to manufacture polyethylene from sugar cane. It is estimated that the new process will produce significantly less CO2 compared to the traditional polyethylene manufacturing process.

Expected to start production in 2011, the manufacturing facility will have a capacity of 350,000 metric tons. The venture will combine Dow’s experience in polyethylene with Crystalsev’s experience in ethanol to serve customers in Brazil and future international interest.

At a molecular level, the new product will be identical to the DOWLEX™ polyethylene resins manufactured at other Dow facilities. The advantage of this material, versus most renewable resource-based plastics, is that customers will be using a drop-in replacement made with a renewable resource, not a different polymer altogether. Like the traditional PE product, the sugar cane-based polyethylene would be fully recyclable using existing infrastructure.