25 February 2003 13:35 [Source: ICIS news]
BRUSSELS (CNI)--Environmental regulations covering the chlorine industry must incorporate the European Council's Lisbon objectives to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic economy of the world, capable of sustainable economic growth, according to Alois Michielsen, chairman of Belgian chemicals group Solvay.
He warned that European chlorine producers are threatened by
global competition, low and ever decreasing margins, a
proliferation of regulations and their cumulative effects.
"Efforts by the chlorine industry to produce responsible solutions to environmental concerns and its commitment to achieving them must be recognised and considered as a basis for future dialogue on sustainability", Michielsen said. He demanded the development of better regulations, which retain a sense of proportion and define realistic objectives to enable manufacturers to take the most effective path.
Industry has worked hard to make chlorine more environmentally responsible, he said. Mercury emissions have been cut by 97%, the pulp and paper sector no longer uses chlorine and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are no longer produced in Europe, and their by-products are considerably reduced.
However, Michielsen argued that accelerating conversion from mercury production to membrane cell production is not justified. He said: "It is expensive and resources are finite - we need to use them effectively."
Michielsen also pointed out that the Johannesburg World Summit on sustainability targets for access to drinking water is a priority and this cannot be achieved without chlorine.
The Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development pledged to halve the proportion of the world’s population without access to safe drinking water by 2015.
Currently chlorine production plays a major role in European industry. Around 20m tonne of chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen is produced each year and chlorine production employs 40 000 people, according to Euro Chlor figures.
Around 55% of the chemical industry and 85% of the pharmaceuticals industry is dependent on chlorine.
The Euro Chlor conference in Brussels began on 24th February and concludes today.
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