CAN THE UK SOLVE THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY’S BREXIT CHALLENGE?

| September 3, 2018

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It certainly seems aware of the importance of the chemical industry to the British economy. As a recent British House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee reported, “The chemicals industry is the second largest exporter to the EU after the automotive industry and the second biggest manufacturing industry overall, with £10bn Gross Value Added, annual turnover of £32bn and total exports of £26bn.” This same committee is also aware of the importance of REACH (the EU chemical safety registration system), noting that, “The most important component of the REACH system is ensuring access to the market in the registration process, which requires the registration of all chemical substances sold within the EU in quantities greater than 1 tonne.”

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Setting record straight on testing harm in chemicals

Article | February 13, 2020

The modern world is built on chemicals, be it the medicines we use, or cleaning fluids, crop protection products, or the raw materials for everything from laptops and mobile phones to clothes and furniture. Across all, we have created an entire modern society with chemicals, and, as a result, constantly stretched the size of the world population we can feed, clothe and shelter. Yet, balancing all the gains from the modern chemistry around us against any negative environmental and human impact has been a rising concern, making for ever greater focus on testing and on risk assessment.

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Sustainability: A Core Initiative for Collaboration in the Chemical Industry

Article | February 19, 2020

Legislation and pressure from stakeholders are forcing the chemical industry to find efficiencies and urgently seek out ways to reduce environmental impact, such as implementing low-carbon initiatives, maximizing energy and water efficiency and developing new innovative products and processes. Last month’s World Economic Forum added further urgency as shareholders and investment groups added new sustainability criteria to their investment considerations. As the pressure to improve sustainability rises, organizations like SusChem, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry, are gaining visibility and traction.

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More data show how far we still have to go to solve the climate and plastic waste crises

Article | June 27, 2021

SEE THE END section of this blog post for a dystopian version of our environmental future. In a follow-up post – which I will publish on Thursday, 1 July – I will offer some suggestions about how we can avoid an outcome that nobody of course wants.Both posts are meant to be provocative, challenging and controversial because only through debate, and sometimes outright argument, will we get to the answers. If you disagree after either or both posts have been published, great, that would be good. In fact, I would love to hear from you whatever your views at john.richardson@icis.com. The petrochemicals industry can do this; we can fix this if we create the right forums for ideas and then solutions. Let me provide the background first. Let me start by examining developments in the refinery industry and the implications for petrochemicals as important background. Then I will look at a sample of ICIS petrochemicals demand growth forecasts for 2020-2040. I will conclude by providing the bleakest of bleak outcomes for the world in 2025

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Global polyethylene demand boom likely, increasing the sustainability challenge

Article | June 15, 2021

IT FEELS LIKE several lifetimes ago. If you recall, way back in November-December 2019 Asian variable cost integrated naphtha-based polyethylene (PE) margins turned negative because of the increase in US capacity. Then in January the following year, deep Asian and Middle East operating rate cuts returned some order to the market. Then, bang, as we all know, the pandemic arrived and turned everything on its head. The pandemic has, in my view, accentuated trends that were already well underway. I believe this means that the supply-driven downturn that started in late 2019 will not return.Long before coronavirus upended everyone’s lives, PE demand was becoming increasingly divorced from GDP growth because of the shifting nature of end-use demand. Booming internet sales was, I believe, a major factor behind the split between the growth of the overall economies in the developed world plus China and PE demand.The average product bought online is dropped 17 times because of the large number of people involved in the logistics chain, according to Forbes. This had led to a surge in demand for protective packaging made not from PE and other polymers such as polypropylene, expandable polystyrene and PET films (I will look at their demand growth prospects in later posts).Despite sustainability pressures, the scale of demand for stuff bought online translated to a lot more consumption of virgin polymers.

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