I am finally able to post this recently released sustainable chemical industry survey from ICIS (the company I work for) and green chemistry company Genomatica. An article about it was published from ICIS Chemical Business last week.
For those who haven’t checked it out yet (as I’ve been tweeting about it the past week or so), the survey found that 57% of chemical industry respondents believe their companies should reduce exposure to the petroleum-based commodity market. The same majority reported their customers were already inquiring about the availability of sustainably produced chemicals.
“It is clear that all of the stakeholders in our industry, including executives, employees, and most importantly the customers, are demanding sustainably produced chemicals to play a major role in the industry going forward,” said Christophe Schilling, chief executive officer of Genomatica.
“Diversifying the feedstock base of the industry and reducing the reliance on hydrocarbons makes sense now more than ever, particularly if doing so delivers the benefits of improved economics and environmental stewardship.”
When asked what their reservations about sustainable chemistry were, respondents cited the future pricing of renewable feedstocks (53%) and the availability of feedstock (52%) as their two main worries.
Respondents were also worried about the fact that the chemicals would not be the same as the petrochemical-derived products they were substituting (26%) and that they might not have predictable, repeatable properties (23%).
My colleague, ICIS Custom Publishing editor John Baker who handled the project noted that few chemical companies understand how practical and achievable sustainable processes are today despite the fact that they are already engaged with sustainable programs and view green chemicals as a route to long-term success.
“Even longer term, product and operational environmental concerns are not, it seems, of prime importance. This sits somewhat at odds with the survey results suggesting that many companies have a high focus on sustainable chemistry. But perhaps this can be rationalized in terms of “good to do” and “critical to do” priorities.” – John Baker, ICIS.
The survey was completed by over 900 ICIS subscribers and readers from the petrochemicals, specialty chemicals, and polymers segments of the chemical industry. The respondents’ roles spanned across strategic (at least 31%) and operational (at least 38%) functions. Fifteen percent of respondents were in the CEO, chairman or president role.
I guess the good news about this is that the chemical industry is aware about the necessity of implementing sustainability strategies for the long term viability of their businesses. The bad news: Either they don’t know how to do it or they put these strategies in the back burner for now as more pressing matters needed to be focused on…such as health care and pensions perhaps??