Driving Sustainable Futures
February 17, 2021
Trinseo is a global materials company aspiring to be a leader in sustainable material solutions. We realized early on that sustainability is a strategic imperative with a clear business case. But as a relatively small company that recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, we needed to be agile and pragmatic to meet our ambitious goals.
Here’s how we worked to channel our passion into a roadmap of concrete actions that are getting us closer to achieving our goals.
Our sustainability journey began with what can be described as “positive chaos” – where our people had a lot of enthusiasm for sustainability projects, but lacked alignment and a clear roadmap. Our end goal was to embed sustainability within our DNA, so we knew that we needed to first define a strategy and overarching governance structure.
We established what is known internally as the Trinseo Sustainability Team to align on business and corporate priorities, execute joint plans, and track progress. This proved to be quite successful, as we managed to move quickly on horizontal projects like the Mass Balance certification program. It also created a great platform for cross-business unit learning and best practice sharing, which we missed before as people worked in silos.
Circular Economy Partnerships have grown significantly over the years. This is not surprising, as no company can progress toward a more sustainable future when working alone. The path to meaningful change relies on partnerships across the value chain – from customers to brand owners to feedstock suppliers – aimed at realizing the promise of the circular economy.
At Trinseo, we’ve begun to implement a circular economy partnership strategy by partnering with AmSty and INEOS Styrolution on to accelerate circularity for polystyrene. This partnership was the first global combined effort to explore advanced recycling technologies for Polystyrene, optimize them for commercial use, and ensure that post-consumer polystyrene waste does not end up in landfills. Another example is our collaboration with Tyre Recycling Solutions to to help global tire manufacturers develop more sustainable formulations using End of Life Tires. With these partnerships we are developing steep learning curve about new technologies and business models that will shape our industry future.
Our journey led us to realize that the complexity of sustainability often requires a new mindset or skillset. As a materials solutions provider, we are not experts in recycling technologies. Yet, we partnered with INEOS Styrolution to build a first-of-its-kind polystyrene recycling plant based on depolymerization. We firmly believe that to successfully establish ourselves as a long-term leader in sustainability, we must step outside of the traditional confines of our role and rethink our business. We believe this is integral to our success, in addition to the capacity to adapt, learn, and evolve.
A successful sustainability strategy looks vastly different between companies and industries, but ultimately relies on a concerted internal effort, strong industry partnerships, and the ability to adapt. As we continue our sustainability journey, I look forward to sharing more insights.