Trinseo | Designing for a Circular Economy

Thought Leadership

July 27, 2022

Designing for a Circular Economy

Sofia Sotiropoulou Riemann, Sustainability Leader, Latex Binders

Waste and pollution are the result of unsustainable design decisions. As consumers become more sustainably conscious it has pushed product designers to not only consider the economic impact of sales, performance, and cost of development, but also the sustainability of a product along its lifecycle including the end-of-life.

The sustainability imperative is forcing us to re-design with new criteria in mind. The so-far dominant model of take-make-waste, which considers aesthetics, performance and cost of a product that will be used for a short time and then discarded, is now being seen as a waste of valuable resources. The linear model transitioning to a circular model. Designers are now considering how to extend a product’s life, by making it easy and possible to recycle, allowing reuse. 

As part of Trinseo's 2030 Sustainability Goals, our Latex Binders team has invested in innovation to increase circularity and help customers improve their environmental impact. One way we are innovating is by exploring circular redesign practices, where we can successfully recycle and reuse every part of a product in order to divert it from landfills.

The Art of Redesign

Redesign is at the core of a circular economy. Our current products are based on linear economy models, but we can only achieve true impact when products are designed from the beginning for a circular model. This represents a significant challenge but also opportunity for any company.

As consumer demand increases for sustainable solutions, manufacturers are re-examining products that have been in existence for decades and reconsidering how they are made. Circularity requires a fundamental change, starting with design and extending through a product’s life cycle.

Strategies such as reuse, reduce, recycle are leading circular redesign approaches – creating value for consumers and businesses alike. At Trinseo, we are revisiting our Latex Binders product portfolio with an eye toward redesign. Not only are we replacing virgin, fossil materials with high-quality circular content that delivers on performance and sustainability, but we’re also considering how our materials fit into a circular economy – one that eliminates waste from the onset and lengthens a product’s life cycle.

Achieving Circularity

According to the Circularity Gap Report, only 8.6% of the world is currently circular. In fact, the circularity gap is widening, and resources are becoming increasingly scarce. To re-engineer the linear design system and achieve circularity, collaboration will be key. Right now, a number of industries are experimenting with building a circular infrastructure, including the Latex Binders sector. Companies are trying to develop the best, most cost-effective redesign solutions and forge a path forward.

Currently, there is no one answer, just a series of trials and errors as we all work toward the same goal. Our Latex Binders team has already started several initiatives to advance a circular economy and help customers achieve their sustainability goals.

Redesigning products to fit a circular economy is a force for change – one that our Latex Binders team is ready to fully embrace. By transitioning from a linear design model to a circular economy structure, we aim to reduce waste, contribute to products becoming circular while maintaining their value, and help save natural resources. An outcome that is good for business, people, and the environment.