Trinseo rethinking innovation, targeting circularity
Trinseo SA was all about “rethinking innovation” at this year’s K show, going beyond product development and focusing on delivering future-oriented solutions.
The Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based materials supplier aims to offer products that enable customers to design around future trends such as mobility, digitalisation and sustainability, according to Tim Stedman, senior vice president, strategy and corporate development.
“From a future trend standpoint, we’re focused on the global landscape.
“Changes in mobility habits are causing manufacturers to evolve. In the medical sector, a growing and ageing population is creating a variety of needs and challenges. The growth in digitalization is leading to an increase in portable consumer electronic devices and it’s impacting virtually every other business sector,” explained Stedman.
Trinseo is responding to these changes with high performing materials, a growing portfolio of soft-touch and rigid plastics, and sustainable solutions.
“Our goal continues to be constant innovation. Innovation is about developing materials with an understanding of our customers’ needs,” Stedman pointed out.
Trinseo, Stedman added, will be “listening to customers, learning, and sharing ideas at K” to be able to offer flexible options for customization of products.
Another important topic, overall and to Trinseo, will be sustainability.
The company will be talking about its role relative to Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS), a joint industry recycling initiative, of which Trinseo has been a founding member.
Established in 2018, the platform aims to increase the circularity of styrenics and has recently progressed with a deal to build a new polystyrene chemical recycling plant in Europe. The development is the result of a partnership between SCS members Trinseo and INEOS Styrolution, together with Agilyx.
While work on the project is still in the early stages, it is progressing well, according to Stedman.
Employing technology provided by Agilyx the European chemical recycling plant will aim to process up to 50 tonnes of post-consumer polystyrene feedstock each day.
“By increasing polystyrene recycling rates and closing the loop with food grade recycled content, we will be well-positioned to become a key contributor to the European Commission’s recycling goals,” Stedman noted.
Trinseo’s joint venture Americas Styrenics is also taking the lead on polystyrene recycling in the US.
The lead company here is Regenyx, a joint venture between Americas Styrenics (AmSty is a Trinseo joint venture with CP Chem) and Agilyx.
Regenyx uses Agilyx’s proprietary depolymerization process to convert polystyrene waste from assorted polystyrene products into recycled styrene monomer (RSM).
Americas Styrenics then takes the styrene monomer and works with its supply chain partners, processors, and OEMs to manufacture new polystyrene products with identical, virgin quality styrene monomer that enables all applications, including food contact.
Corporately Trinseo has also renewed its sustainability commitment by adopting GRI Reporting Standards.
“GRI allows us to track, measure, and manage our progress toward achieving sustainability goals and provides important benchmarks so we can make sure we’re positively contributing to sustainability,” Stedman explained, adding that Trinseo had exceeded targets in a number of areas covered by its sustainability report.
The company is also looking at contributing to sustainability goals through the materials it offers.
In rigid plastics portfolio, for example, its recycled-content resins play a prominent role; while its soft touch plastics TPEs offer bio-based alternatives to conventional materials.
The company will use K Show to outline plans to offer an average of 30% recycled content for its polystyrene packaging customers in Europe by 2025.
As a key materials supplier, Trinseo was affected by a number of factors this year, namely weaker demand from China, caused by the ongoing trade war with the US.
In addition, in key sales region Europe, Trinseo’s margins were impacted by imports from China and an anticipation of additional supply in styrene and polycarbonate.
However, according to Stedman, Trinseo’s operational discipline and cash generation has remained strong.
“We continue to return cash to shareholders via buybacks and dividends,” he said.
In the medium-term drivers of growth will be trends such as digitalization, an ageing population and a growing emphasis on sustainability – all of which require new material solutions.
At K, the company will highlight among other applications, its post-consumer recycled compounds for the production of electronic grade organosheets for laptop housings.
Trinseo also supports the trend for miniaturization and light-weighting in consumer electronics by offering resins that meet demands for haptics, aesthetics and colorability.
The company will present its portfolio of MAGNUM™ ABS resins, TYRIL™ San resins and CALIBRE™ polycarbonates for applications in smart devices at K.
The materials, according to Stedman, offer greater design freedom for new smart devices, facilitating aesthetic options such as tinting, transparencies, easy self-coloring and special effects.
In the automotive segment, Trinseo will highlight its ABS LGF Alloy which replaces metal in new vehicle builds. The material enables a 30%-50% weight reduction, according to Stedman.
“We worked closely with Tier One supplier Dräxlmaier to apply our ABS LGF to the BMW 3 Series,” Stedman pointed out.
To address the requirements of electromobility Trinseo will showcase its EMERGE™ PC and PC/ABS Advanced Resins at the event for application in charging stations for EVs.
For the healthcare industry, Trinseo will showcase a portfolio of chemical resistant materials.
“A continued concern is hospital acquired infections and we’ve been investing in the development of materials that resist some of the most aggressive cleaning agents -- and research will continue in this area as bacteria becomes more resistant,” the company official said.