The second-best time to innovate is now.
If only I'd started putting money into a retirement account right of college.
If only I'd spent more time with my kids.
If only I'd developed that perfect golf swing as a teenager.
Most of us can look back on our lives and beat ourselves up for opportunities – big and small – that we believe we squandered. But where does that leave us? Spinning our wheels and digging a deeper rut.
That's why I'm a big fan of the wisdom found in this often-quoted proverb: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now."
It's advice we've taken to heart at AmSty as we forge ahead with ambitious sustainability goals.
There's no easy or perfect solution to fix a broken plastics recycling system (only 10 percent of plastics in the U.S. are recycled). But as a leading producer of polystyrene, it's imperative that we're part of the solution.
So, we're digging in and planting a proverbial tree now by making important commitments and taking steps to achieve them.
Using the industry's first truly circular recycling process, we've pledged that all products designed for foodservice and food packaging applications will contain 30 percent recycled content by 2030. We continue to reach milestones toward this goal – joining with Agilyx in a joint venture with Regenyx, the first commercial-scale recycling facility using this circular technology that breaks down polystyrene products to their original molecular form.
The resulting recycled material is then used to create the exact same products. In other words, that disposable cup that you toss in the recycling bin at your favorite coffee shop returns to a disposable coffee cup with the exact same properties and qualities, like the process for soda cans. Those products can be infinitely recycled, and their resources preserved for multiple uses. It doesn't get much more sustainable than that.
To date, Regenyx has converted more than one-and-a-half-million pounds of used polystyrene to all-new materials. That's equivalent to keeping 56.25 million foam cups or 48.75 million takeout containers out of thelandfill. To accelerate this transformation, we have announced additional investment in the Regenyx facility and plans to build a new facility using the same technology co-located with an already existing AmSty site. This project is in its planning phase now.
It's our long-term vision that through circular recycling, plastic products never end up in a landfill. Perhaps that's more important than ever, as people are using more polystyrene products like single-use utensils and food containers as they focus on health and safety.
Admittedly, that goal is a heavy lift that will require collaboration with cities and states to create the infrastructure necessary to make it easy for all of us to participate in circular recycling. But we're all in.
With Regenyx, we've demonstrated that circular recycling works and that fuels our excitement about future facilities. They're coming. And it's all because we chose to "plant a tree."
It's a responsibility we take very seriously – not only planting that tree, but nurturing it and watching it grow into something that makes a meaningful difference.
What's holding you back from achieving your goals? Don't let another opportunity pass you by. So you didn't do it 1, 5 or 20 years ago; that's OK. The second-best time is now.