September 13, 2023
Investing in the Future: Aligning Engineered Materials and Sustainability
Francesca Reverberi, Senior Vice President, Engineered Materials and Chief Sustainability Officer
The United Nations estimates that over 400 million tons of plastic is wasted each year. At Trinseo, we are working to minimize the impact of plastic waste across our Engineered Materials, Plastics Solutions, and Polystyrene & Feedstocks business units.
That is why I am thrilled to now lead our sustainability efforts in conjunction with Trinseo’s Engineered Materials unit. With a background in Engineered Materials, which holds so much potential for recycling and circularity, my recent appointment to Senior Vice President, Engineered Materials and Chief Sustainability Officer enables us to best synchronize across the two teams for better collaboration.
Aligning Engineered Materials and Sustainability
Many of our Engineered Materials are either sustainably advantaged or have the potential to be, and aligning this business unit under my leadership enables us to better maximize our personnel and portfolio to deliver innovative materials. Since our acquisition of Arkema’s polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) business and Aristech Surfaces in 2021, we have recognized that this engineered material could enable us to offer a unique, sustainably advantaged acrylic portfolio. In Europe, we have made excellent headway with the launch of the ALTUGLAS™ R-Life portfolio, which is made with up to 80% recycled PMMA to deliver a virgin-like final product.
Additionally, with the recent opening of our polycarbonate (PC) dissolution pilot plant at our site in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, and our investment in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) dissolution through ABSolEU, we are continuing to advance efforts toward a circular economy for our Engineered Materials portfolio. Technologies like dissolution enable us to recycle materials that are landfilled or incinerated at end of life due to contamination, such as coatings or films or that are painted, printed, or colored.
These teams have worked well together in the past, and by working under one unified strategy, we see immense sustainability potential.
Investing in the Future
Our industry is continuing to evolve as we find new ways of advancing circularity. The Engineered Materials and Sustainability business units are both essential to helping Trinseo achieve our goal of reducing our environmental impact from plastic waste and driving industry change toward circularity.
A key component of this is developing partnerships throughout the value chain, such as our involvement in the MMATwo consortium that was a Horizon 2020 project that ran between 2018-2022. MMATwo developed a new value chain for PMMA waste and a new technology to process different types of PMMA waste, including the most challenging waste, into high quality regenerated monomer.
In the months ahead, we will have exciting innovations to share as we continue to deliver sustainable solutions to legacy challenges. One of these innovations will be the launch of our PMMA Depolymerization pilot facility, which will operate next-generation proprietary technology allowing for super-high-yield depolymerization. Through this backwards integration with Heathland, we will be able to recycle cast sheet acrylics, which are currently not recyclable through mechanical recycling methods.
As research and development across industries and governments continue to unlock the potential of circularity, we are excited for what the future holds, as we break new ground and reshape the industry.