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Sustainability: A Core Initiative for Collaboration in the Chemical Industry

Sustainability: A Core Initiative for Collaboration in the Chemical Industry

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.


Driving Through Focused Initiatives

As the pressure to improve sustainability rises, organizations like SusChem, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry, are gaining visibility and traction. The nonprofit organization brings together industry, academia, policy makers and wider society to inspire European chemical and biochemical innovation to provide sustainable solutions to key societal challenges. Established in 2004 by the Brussels-based European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and several other stakeholders, SusChem’s vision is for a competitive and innovative Europe where sustainable chemistry and biotechnology together provide solutions for future generations. This initiative has drive and momentum: although targeted to Europe, the solutions have value in all regions.

In late 2019, SusChem unveiled its new “Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda" (SIRA), to expand its vision to 2030, delivering both strategic priorities and a roadmap of new technology. Effectively meeting the major sustainability challenges across the European chemicals sector requires a combination of the right technological solutions and the active involvement of key stakeholders and interested parties across the sector. Ultimately, it is about addressing today’s critical challenges, by understanding customers’ key demands regarding sustainability and strengthening the entire sector’s competitiveness both in specific regions and at a Europe-wide level. 


Working Together to Address Challenges

At the November 2019 SusChem stakeholder event in Brussels Sustainable Chemistry to solve global challenges: the new SusChem Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda participants debated high-level global and societal challenges as well as more granular SusChem SIRA-relevant priorities that include the digitalization of the chemical and industrial biotech sectors.

The recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25) in Madrid reinforced this emphasis with an in-depth discussion on The High Ambition Alliance for Chemicals and Waste, a Swedish initiative now supported by 20 countries and a number of UN organizations and agencies. 

By taking concerted action, the chemicals industry can help reduce energy consumption and deliver improved profitability. It can build sustainability through efficient production planning that drives enhanced productivity as well as reduced waste.  

Chemicals businesses will need to adapt fast to keep up with the drive to sustainability and survive and thrive in this new environment. To do so, they will require the agility that will only come through advanced technology solutions. The big question: can the industry respond fast enough? 

To learn more about Aspen Technology solutions for sustainability, join the discussion at the Global ManuChem Strategies Forum in Berlin in March when I will present a workshop on Digitalization Strategies for Sustainability.

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