Talking Trash With Dow’s Jim Fitterling: CEO Daily

Good morning.

Dow CEO Jim Fitterling was in the Fortune offices yesterday. He’s been busy carving out his company from the old Dow and DuPont. But interestingly, he says he also spends about 25% of his time dealing with the issue of plastic waste.

The problem, he says, is that plastic isn’t going away, and shouldn’t go away. If you replaced all plastic packaging with glass and metal containers, the carbon footprint would go up four or five times as a result, he says.

So instead, Fitterling is focusing on recycling. He was one of the organizers of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste-a group of more than 25 companies that has committed $1.5 billion over the next five years to ensure plastic gets recycled.

Recycling has actually declined in recent years due to a reduction in oil prices, which makes new plastic less expensive, and to the shutting of the Chinese market to imported plastic waste, cutting the demand for recycled material. Fitterling and his colleagues are encouraging ways to increase usage of recycled plastic–by putting it in paving asphalt, for instance. “There is not enough of a market” for the recycled stuff, he says. “We have to create demand.”

Asked why he is spending so much of his time on the plastic challenge, Fitterling responded: “My millennials all want to solve this problem, too. And it’s not just millennials. People my age want to solve it, too.” When I asked whether his board approved of him spending so much time on the issue, he turned two thumbs up.

Fitterling plans to talk about the plastic challenge when he joins us in September at the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum in Yunnan, China. (For more information, go here.).

News below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.