Supporting a Circular Model Through Recycling Innovation
Skip to Sub Navigation Menu Skip to Main Content

Supporting a Circular Model Through Recycling Innovation

January 29, 2024

Sarmenio Saliba, Global Sustainability Business Director

An increasing number of directives are on the horizon for the plastics industry and will have a substantial impact on the way we design, produce, use and recycle these materials.

The widely discussed plastic packaging regulations in Europe have hinted at the importance of mandatory recycled content targets in driving circularity, and we see this effect being extended to other non-packaging plastics sectors. One example of this last year was the European Commission's proposal on End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV), which could mandate automakers to use 25% recycled plastics, a quarter of which must come from ELVs. Such new regulatory frameworks will play a significant role in how industries must work together to collect and manage waste more efficiently, develop high quality recycled materials and increase design for circularity.

The direction towards a more circular plastic economy is evident on a global scale and will be backed up by legislation across different regions and for different plastics sectors. At Trinseo we welcome this transition as it amplifies our existing efforts to cultivate a circular economy. Our strategy in delivering circular alternatives utilizes a multifaceted approach, which includes two important aspects: building a strong internal network of expertise and innovating advanced recycling technologies.

Building Our Expertise

Solutions that contain recyclate require plastics manufacturers to source appropriate waste streams. This can be a challenge if you do not have upstream suppliers with the right expertise. In 2022, Trinseo acquired Heathland B.V., a well-known plastics recycler in Europe. With a longstanding presence in engineered plastic waste processing and recycling, this strategic move enabled us to bring sourcing expertise in-house.

Additionally, we continue to grow this expertise through partnerships and collaborations throughout the value chain. These advancements help us support customers in a unique way—we can tailor solutions to their needs and work with them to develop new ones. As waste management becomes a growing challenge through new regulations, expertise in sourcing, processing and recycling plastic waste will be paramount to successful implementation.

With recycled content-containing plastics rising in demand across many sectors, our unique position can help customers source high value circular alternatives.

Advancing Recycling Technologies

While access to upstream suppliers that can provide quality waste is integral to developing a circular economy, we also need to simultaneously develop recycling technologies that meet performance demands, such as for color, purity and durability.

Trinseo continues to advance on its portfolio of recycling technologies, and in 2023, we opened our pilot polycarbonate (PC) dissolution plant in the Netherlands. Additionally, we have also announced the start of construction of our new demonstration polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) depolymerization unit in Italy the same year. These technologies build on our longstanding expertise in these polymers and take advantage of our existing infrastructure, bringing new scalable opportunities for recycling.

We launched our dissolution technology several years ago with polystyrene (PS) dissolution, which enabled us to commercialize dissolution-based recycling PS materials. By continuing to expand our knowledge of dissolution, we are now scaling up our PC dissolution capabilities and anticipate commercial availability by 2025. This generates increased accessibility to PC waste streams that would previously be harder to recycle. Additionally, we are collaborators in the ABSolEU project, which is an initiative funded through the EU’s Horizon Programme with the objective of developing technology that can physically recycle waste ABS.

These efforts are the start of our contribution to novel recycling processes for the plastics industry. We can increase the tolerance of waste qualities that can be processed and enable the production of high quality recyclates. This will provide complementary yet necessary new options for engineered plastic recycling.

By bringing expertise and technology advancement into one company, we can help our customers meet changing sustainability requirements. This approach not only differentiates us from the competition, but also positions us for success as sustainability regulations continue to evolve.

I am excited by the year ahead and look forward to continuing our work in recycling innovation.

Ready for a sustainable partnership?

From design to manufacturing, we’ll work hand in hand with you to deliver customized sustainable solutions unique to the needs of your company and customers.