Global polystyrene leader Styron LLC is marking its first anniversary as an independent company by issuing its first Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Report.
The 41-page report — issued in June by Berwyn, Pa.-based Styron — shows that the firm has made “a huge commitment” to sustainability, spokeswoman Catherine Maxey said in a June 13 phone interview.
“As a new company, we were getting questions from customers and employees on where we stand on sustainability,” she said. “It can mean something different to many of our customers.
“As a privately held company with no consumer products, we sit at the crossroads of all of that. Our employees relate [to sustainability] because they deal with our customers every day,” she said.
Styron — with more than 2,000 employees at 20 plants worldwide and annual sales of $5 billion — begins each corporate meeting with the topic of sustainability, and employees' bonuses are tied in to meeting sustainability goals.
The report details how Styron has improved its injury rates, spill rates and frequency of process safety incidents in its first year of operation. It also showcases several successful sustainability projects, including:
* Using methane gas from a nearby landfill as the primary energy source at a plant making latex for carpet backing in Dalton, Ga. The project reduced the product's carbon footprint by 25 percent, officials said.
* Installing new water-treatment equipment at a latex plant in Allyn's Point, Conn. The new equipment has reduced water discharge from the plant by 90 percent and created annual savings of about $100,000 in energy costs.
* Reducing energy usage at a PS plant in Merak, Indonesia, by 41 percent between 2005 and 2009. This reduction was accomplished in a number of ways, such as replacing oversize electrical motors and eliminating simultaneous heating and cooling in certain process areas. The project resulted in about $1 million in savings on annual energy costs and reduced the site's carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9 billion tons.
Work done at Styron's Indonesian PS plant will benefit its other plants as well, Maxey said. Each of the projects required some level of capital investment, meaning they had to show return on investment and compete with other projects — including those not associated with sustainability — within the company before being approved.
“Companies all over the world are finding that sustainability programs can save a lot of money and resources, such as water,” she added.
Recently, Styron introduced a recycled-content grade of polycarbonate at the Chinaplas trade show in Guangzhou, China. The material now is available in Asia because of the large number of consumer electronics companies that are located there.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recent listing of styrene — a key PS feedstock — as a carcinogen won't have any immediate impact on Styron or its sustainability efforts, Maxey said.
“We're taking the same view that [the Styrene Information and Research Center] has — that [the classification] is completely unjustified and that it's the result of a flawed process,” she added.
Regarding the sustainability report, Maxey said Styron officials are especially proud that so much progress in that area was made in what was a transitional year for the firm.
“There was a lot of change in this past year,” she explained. “We could have taken our eye off the ball but we didn't.”