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Anne Boudreaux is captivated by food packaging. It might seem like a strange fascination, but not when you consider her upbringing and education.

A chemical engineer and Amsty Senior Account Executive, Anne grew up in Delaware with a father who was in the packaging films industry.

Anne understood at an early age the innovation required to move the packaging industry forward and it motivated her. She went to work for the plastics packaging industry out of college.

"I loved being able to bring new products to customers and consumers that would meet their requirements and bring desired change," she said.

While she was passionate about leveraging new technologies to provide innovative solutions, the fact that recycling solutions weren't as readily available weighed on her.

"As a nature lover, I always felt like there was this little burden. We were making more convenient products to meet on-the-go and food-ready consumer desires, but the discarded products had nowhere to go but the landfill," she said. "It bothered me that packaging was only going into the trash or sometimes not even making it there."

Mechanical recycling of plastics was growing, but outcomes weren't ideal. Still used today, the resulting material is often substandard and used for limited applications. Brand owners wanted pristine aesthetics and inexpensive packaging, which is difficult with the mechanically recycled material, she said.

"Black or non-food grade applications were lower in value as well with often a more expensive product," said Anne. "Package designs and colors are a brand's equity and making products easier to recycle, taking away that equity, was not of interest in the past."

As a chemical engineer, she knew there had to be a molecular solution to reach valuable end markets.

Then, she found AmSty, the leading producer of polystyrene plastic and a leader using a circular recycling technology. This technology recycles post-consumer polystyrene, waste plastics, to create products with the same quality, FDA-approval for food packaging, and durability – taking what was discarded and bringing it back to the same valuable end-markets again.

Finding this solution was her career-long quest.

"We can reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to create plastics by recycling existing products in a circular way to recreate the exact same items repeatedly," said Anne.

Much progress has been made. In 2019, Amsty and its partner Agilyx launched a joint venture called Regenyx, which was the first project that serves as proof of concept for this technology. AmSty is also pursuing partnerships with other technology companies to dramatically increase capacity to make polystyrene products new again.

Scaling up to a fully circular economy will take time, collaboration, legislation and infrastructure, along with increased public outreach to tell the sustainability story of circular recycling.

"Communication is critical," she said, "as well as making circular recycling easy for everyone. The great news is that with infinite recyclability on the horizon, the work ahead is well worth it."

"We have the right people with the right vision," said Anne. "We're a small company but are on the leading edge of this industry."

She still talks to her dad, now 89, about the plastics industry and AmSty's sustainability efforts and he's eager to see circular recycling take off. "Dad's hoping we hurry," said Anne.

So, for customers who are clamoring for this new circular technology as a sustainable solution, "It's an exciting time and I couldn't be prouder of the work we're doing," she said. 

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