Waste reduction

Waste minimization is a core element of Eastman’s sustainability journey and long-term planning. Our strategy includes four focus areas: development of an infrastructure for waste, alignment with Eastman’s circular economy position, promoting innovative recycling methods, and education and engagement of various stakeholders with a focus on waste minimization. 

Developing an infrastructure for waste 

Eastman supports the waste management hierarchy. Our waste management efforts are being designed to reduce or eliminate the generation of waste whenever possible. When waste reduction/elimination is not possible, we will move down the waste management hierarchy with treatment and disposal as a last resort.

Waste management hierarchy diagram

To generate a representative waste baseline, Eastman conducted a waste characterization study in 2022 in Kingsport, Tennessee, home to our largest manufacturing site. We used data from that study to identify specific waste minimization opportunities; the data will be used to set waste metrics and goals that we will report in the future. We will conduct similar characterization studies at our other manufacturing sites. Additionally, annual waste data for all Eastman sites will be used to enhance our infrastructure strategy in 2023.

Scattered recycled plastic waste ready to be recycled again

Mainstreaming a circular economy

Alignment with Eastman’s circular economy initiatives will allow for new, innovative solutions to reduce Eastman’s corporate waste footprint. We will prioritize internal and external (post-consumer) feedstock streams as they relate to our material-to-material molecular recycling technologies. These internal and external feedstocks provide Eastman with the opportunity to take hard-to-recycle materials and sort, recycle and produce materials with certified recycled content. 

Technologies alone will not deliver a circular economy, however, and we are also focused on initiatives and partnerships that will give us a new recycling infrastructure for the modern age — an infrastructure that expands capabilities to collect and recycle more complex products across the U.S.

In June 2022, we joined The Recycling Partnership’s PET Recycling Coalition as a steering team member. The coalition focuses on increasing capture of PET bottles, broadening acceptance of non-bottle rigid items — such as PET trays, cups and clamshells — in community recycling collection systems, unlocking new supplies of recycled PET (rPET) for packaging manufacturers and strengthening recycling systems for pigmented and opaque PET.

Impacting community infrastructure

Working with local stakeholders near our global headquarters in Kingsport, Eastman and neighboring company Domtar have agreed to split the cost of a feasibility study exploring curbside recycling for the East Tennessee region. The Recycling Partnership will consult on the study, which will look at all aspects of recycling, including the existing marketplace for recyclable materials, potential geographic reach, estimated volumes of residential recyclable materials generated and current destination of materials.

Recycling initiatives 

Recycling programs for cardboard, metal, paper products and plastics are in process at various levels throughout our organization. In other recycling initiatives, we are focused on universal waste (including mercury-containing equipment, lamps and batteries), oils, pallets and catalyst recovery.

Education and engagement

We are assessing training opportunities on an ongoing basis in alignment with our feasibility study and waste metric development and implementation strategy.