Driving Sustainable Futures
December 16, 2020
The Lessons We Learned from 2020: Looking Ahead to a More Sustainable Future
Walter Van het Hof, Global Industry Affairs & Sustainability Leader, Trinseo
Growth is often born from adversity. Given the challenges many of us have faced over the past year, it’s not surprising that 2020 has served as a catalyst for transformation for many. At Trinseo, we’ve been reflecting on the valuable lessons that 2020 taught us, and the important changes we’re undergoing as a result.
What 2020 Taught Us
Over the past year, we’ve learned several critical lessons as an organization – and as individuals – as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its global fallout. We learned that many of the things we relied upon for their stability were, in reality, incredibly fragile. As a society, we’re much more vulnerable than many of us ever realized.
We also learned that change comes fast and that when it does, we must adapt quickly or be left behind. Ideally, we should be continuously evolving to meet these changes, as opposed to playing catch up.
Most importantly, we learned that we could change. And we could change drastically. In less than a year, we’ve adapted to different lifestyles, reinvented our workflows, and completely reimagined our society. If we can do so much in such a short timeline, imagine what we’re capable of in the long term?
How We’re Thinking Differently in 2021 & Beyond
Because of the adversities we’ve faced, we’re shifting the way we think about our work, our goals and our role in society. When we think about the future, we’re not simply envisioning the steps we’ll need to take in the next 5-10 years to move the dial one step forward. Instead, we’re dreaming about what we wish the world could look like 20-30 years down the line, and then backing out what it would take to get there.
At Trinseo, we believe the ideal future revolves around the circular economy – where waste is eliminated and natural resources are reused continuously – and we’re taking steps to make this a reality. As a founding member of Styrenics Circular Solutions, we’re actively engaging with the value chain to develop new recycling technologies aimed at achieving circularity for styrenic products.
We also recently released a series of long-term sustainability goals that outline our ambitious, yet measurable and achievable, plan to address everything from climate change and a sustainable product portfolio to responsible operations and a sustainable workforce. In looking ahead, we’ve committed to ensuring that every step we take is in the direction of a more sustainable future – from implementing a mass balance certification system for sustainable feedstocks to our recent partnership with Tyre Recycling Solutions (TRS) to accelerate sustainable tire formulations through increased use of recycled tires.
2020 has truly been a year of firsts – of growth, innovation and adaptation on an unprecedented scale. The lessons learned from our collective experience of adversity have proven just how adaptable we can be as humans and organizations. If we can take these lessons and new-found versatility and focus them on building a more sustainable future for all, then our futures are indeed bright.