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Sustainability Journey

Leadership

Because of the life-enhancing features of polystyrene and its inherent efficiency as a material, we believe the most sustainable solution for society when all facts are considered is to recycle and repurpose it. As an early pioneer in the idea of plastic circularity, we are proud of our leadership record in developing solutions that keep plastic out of landfills and the environment. We committed to a goal of 30% recycled content in our food packaging and foodservice products by 2030 as a first step on the journey to seeing all polystyrene recycled. To accomplish this goal, we embrace multiple technologies that can repurpose used polystyrene back into new polystyrene and are actively involved with supply chain partners to expand proven technologies and validate promising ones.

Our pace of progress is accelerating with the rapid growth and acceptance of manufacturing verification systems like the mass balance approach and certification standards like ISCC PLUS. We completed our first sale of certified recycled polystyrene to customers in 2023, and the customer list is growing. We are building momentum not only with circular recycled polystyrene, but other essential materials like styrene – repurposed from plastic waste into circular styrene – for use in everyday applications, like the tires we rely on when driving.

As we write this update in 2024, we are once again launching forward to advance the circular economy as a founding member of the Polystyrene Recycling Alliance (PSRA). PSRA will harness the energy and talent of the broader polystyrene industry to rapidly improve recycling access for polystyrene across the United States so that it can be consistently reused and recycled.

Innovative Solutions

For more than ten years, AmSty has been developing innovative solutions to recycle polystyrene. In 2013, we designed and implemented a dissolution process at our Allyn’s Point, Connecticut, plant to recycle post-consumer polystyrene by cleaning and dissolving it into a recycled feedstock, and then combining it with fresh styrene in a reactor to produce polystyrene. We have recycled more than 30 million pounds of polystyrene with this technology.

In 2018, we partnered with Agilyx, a plastics recycling technology company, to create the Regenyx proof-of-concept joint venture in Tigard, Oregon, to validate an advanced recycling process that goes beyond the dissolution approach at Allyn’s Point. Regenyx utilized pyrolysis to accept a wider range of reclaimed polystyrene than dissolution. Pyrolysis is not incineration, but instead heats reclaimed polystyrene in a reactor under pressure – without oxygen – to melt it, break down to basic molecular compounds, gasify portions, and condense it to a styrenic liquid. From there, the styrenic liquid is sent to our St. James, Louisiana plant, where it is purified, and then shipped to our polystyrene plants for conversion back to polystyrene, completing a circular recycling process. We have recycled more than 5 million pounds of polystyrene plastic at Regenyx back into new consumer products and demonstrated that advanced recycling works.

We continue to innovate to help bring advanced recycling technology to scale and build on the Allyn’s Point and Regenyx successes. AmSty worked closely with the leadership at Encina to finalize a long-term offtake agreement in 2022 from Encina’s first state-of-the-art advanced recycling facility to be built. We also have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow AmSty to purchase up to 250 million pounds of circular feedstocks from Encina’s facilities as it ramps production capacity over time in the United States and globally.

Encina’s facilities will utilize a wide range of plastic waste, including polystyrene, polyethylene, and polypropylene, and repurpose it into a variety of recycled products including benzene, which is a raw material for styrene that AmSty will buy and transform into polystyrene, thus supporting the circular economy for polystyrene and other plastics.

Advanced recycling is an essential technology to address the global issue of plastic disposal because of its ability to utilize mixed used plastic that is not suitable as a feedstock for other recycling technologies. We are encouraged by the increasing number of market entrants to this dynamic space, and we will continue to collaborate broadly across the supply chain to support the rapid deployment of advanced recycling.

We also embrace mechanical recycling as a key technology for repurposing post-consumer polystyrene into new products. AmSty is working closely with technology experts and processors to support the deployment of innovative methods for sorting plastic from the general waste stream for recycling and is testing emerging technologies that show promise for improving the effectiveness of existing recycling operations. We expect to bring online several mechanical recycling projects in 2024 and beyond to continue expanding recycling capacity, meeting customer demand for recycled polystyrene, and showcasing the variety of technologies available to support the circular economy.

Certification

We’ve been a pioneer in developing plastic recycling solutions and embraced that same spirit to improve the transparency and credibility of plastic recycling. AmSty is the first U.S. company to collaborate with the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) organization – a globally recognized expert in certification systems – to implement a certification regimen for circular plastics, ISCC PLUS. All our plants are certified to ISCC PLUS standards.

The number of ISCC PLUS certificates grew by more than 40% in 2023, and we are working closely with customers to develop sustainable solutions for their businesses. Our PolyRenew brand of certified recycled polystyrene is seeing strong demand from customers who want to support – and publicly demonstrate – the rapidly growing circular economy. PolyRenew can now be found on the shelves in major retail outlets in foodservice items, as well as arts and crafts. Furthermore, we are also beginning to supply certified recycled styrene – the precursor to polystyrene – to customers for applications in automotive segments.

The trend is clear: customers are demanding recycled plastic and chemicals for a variety of products, and independent, audited certification to a globally recognized standard like ISCC PLUS allows customers to take comfort in the sustainability footprint of their supply chain.

Stakeholder Engagement

To achieve plastic recycling goals, we need a regulatory framework that promotes the robust collection of plastic waste and the manufacturing capability to repurpose it into new plastic products. AmSty believes in the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR) and is engaged in constructive dialogue with stakeholders on reasonable EPR solutions. We also need a variety of tools in the recycling toolkit and have been aggressively innovating to support technology development and accelerate progress. It is essential that regulators recognize and support the use of all recycling technologies, including advanced recycling, mechanical methods, dissolution, and emerging technologies.

Banning polystyrene – a well-intentioned but misguided approach to addressing plastic waste – deprives consumers of its life-enhancing benefits and often creates unintended consequences resulting in higher cost, inconvenience, spoilage, and less healthy outcomes. We believe the solution to discarding plastic lies not in banning it, but recycling and repurposing it to new products.

A future where polystyrene is highly recyclable requires a shared vision, collaboration, and commitments from manufacturers, processors, packaging companies – and more broadly, cities and states – to make recycling simple and accessible so everyone can participate. We are forging new partnerships and building momentum so that more polystyrene can be repurposed into new products.

To this end, AmSty is leading the way as a founding member of the Polystyrene Recycling Alliance (PSRA), a collective effort across the industry to achieve higher recycling access for polystyrene products in the United States. PSRA will first aim to achieve an initial target of 60% recycling access for polystyrene, the key level for a material to be considered broadly recyclable. As that milestone is accomplished, PSRA will continue raising the bar to set more ambitious targets – and work diligently to achieve them – to ensure that polystyrene is recycled at the very high levels that society expects.

Aligning Sustainability Efforts with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

AmSty’s sustainability initiatives align with many of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are designed for companies and governments to help develop a better and more sustainable world for all.

While our work touches many of the SDGs, there are five that are most directly related to our business. We will continue to support this global initiative and look for opportunities to expand our impact in other SDGs.

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

AmSty is a leading producer of polystyrene, a versatile, safe, and essential product that improves our everyday lives. Many products used in the front lines of life-saving research and medicine are made from polystyrene. Polystyrene is also an important material to keep foods fresh longer, improving access to safe, healthy food, and reducing waste.

We work to ensure the health and safety of our employees, suppliers, and contractors, and have consistently achieved top quartile environmental, health and safety performance within our industry.

These efforts are supportive of the following targets:

  • Target 3.4 – by 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
  • Target 3.9 – by 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

We are proud members of Operation Clean Sweep, an organization focused on helping every plastic pellet-handling location achieve zero losses to protect water quality and wildlife. Water is used in styrene production as a coolant and for steam. We take our commitment to water quality seriously and return water to the Mississippi River much cleaner than before we borrowed it.

These efforts are supportive of the following targets:

  • Target 6.1 – by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
  • Target 6.3 – by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping, and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

Polystyrene foam is often the most sustainable choice for its intended application due to its energy efficiency. For example, producing a foam cup requires 35% less energy compared to a paper cup. Polystyrene foam also makes an energy-efficient insulation in construction.

We have multiple initiatives underway to reduce energy consumption in our operations, including boiler improvements at our St. James plant, resulting in energy and raw material efficiency. We are looking to the future with a conversion from fossil fuel energy to renewables, with our first solar project completed at our plant in Cartagena, Colombia.

These efforts are supportive of the following targets:

  • Target 7.2 – by 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
  • Target 7.3 – by 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

We are proud to be an industry leader in developing a circular economy for polystyrene and other plastics. We are pursuing technologies and partnerships to accelerate the pace of polystyrene recycling and believe this in-kind recycling – where products are returned to their original application, quality, and durability – is the key to keeping plastics out of our landfills.

Minimizing waste throughout our operations and supply chain is foundational to our sustainability efforts. We pursue waste reduction initiatives in manufacturing, supply chain, and even with the end use of our products.

These efforts are supportive of the following targets:

These efforts are supportive of Target 9.4 – by 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

The life-enhancing benefits of polystyrene include reducing food waste by keeping foods fresh longer to avoid spoilage and promote food safety.

We work to reduce waste in our operations, throughout our supply chain, and in the end products we produce.

We were the first U.S. company to work with ISCC to implement ISCC PLUS, a certification program for circular plastics, helping to improve the transparency and credibility of plastics recycling.

We embrace the Responsible Care program, an international initiative to promote safe chemicals management and environmental, health and safety leadership, and have implemented improvement projects to reduce hazardous waste at our plants.

Our annual sustainability report integrates sustainability information into our reporting cycles. We also report to the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) and EcoVadis platforms, leading to consistent and standardized sustainability reporting to stakeholders.

These efforts are supportive of the following targets:

  • Target 12.3 – by 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
  • Target 12.4 – by 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
  • Target 12.5 – by 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse.
  • Target 12.6 – encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.

    2024 Sustainability Report - Custom CSS