AFPM '19: Chem industry continues sustainability efforts, life cycle management

Author: Tracy Dang


SAN ANTONIO (ICIS)--Sustainability is a priority for the petrochemical industry, and it will depend on responsible stewardship and will require transparency and time, panelists told delegates at this year’s International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).

Sustainability is not just about plastics but throughout the whole supply chain as the petrochemical industry finds solutions to life cycle management challenges, said Jim Becker, vice president of polymers and sustainability at Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem).

Companies are developing technologies to make people’s lives better and provide alternatives and, at the same time, make products that use fewer resources, said Sheryl Corrigan, director of environmental health and safety at Koch Industries.

“We need to be transparent, and we need to be able to say ‘yes’ to the ask,” Corrigan said on how the petrochemical industry can improve on these efforts and on community education.

“We appeal to people’s hearts too – it’s not just minds, but also the hearts.”

Various brands have made investments on sustainability including increasing recycled content and securing feedstock and supply, said Danielle Joseph, investment officer at Closed Loop Partners.

Production costs are often too high, and companies are looking at how they can make it large scale. Joseph said it takes time for investments to actually get there.

The industry can go a lot further by creating strategic positions and achieving milestones, said Richael Meidl, professor and fellow in energy and environment at the Center of Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

And rules and regulations will continue to play a role as the industry strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and other resources and manage waste.

“I think that regulation needs to be part of it … but it needs to be performance based and not overly restrictive on the technology,” Corrigan said.

Still Becker said the overall message “is much better than what it was five years ago” and that he was optimistic about the direction the industry is headed.

Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC takes place on 24-26 March in San Antonio, Texas.