Expert Statement: Vivi Hollertt, Nouryon
CO2-Neutral Chemical Industry - The Challenge of an Industry Transformation
Germany, as one of the major chemical manufacturing nations, has committed to achieve this goal by 2050. But companies need to translate this industry vision into their specific context.
System changes of the scale of CO2 neutrality for a whole industry sector require a new mindset. Major transformations command long lead times and require consistent and persistent follow-through. It is all but clear whether enough value is created to justify the huge investments and how new value generated is distributed among critical players and investors.
CHEManager asked executives and industry experts to share their opinions on this industry transformation, which is a multi-stakeholder challenge and comprises economical, technical, societal and political aspects. We proposed to discuss the following aspects:
- What is your strategy / timeline to become carbon neutral and what are the key challenges on the path to achieve this goal?
- What political / regulatory measures are needed to encourage companies to invest in carbon neutral technologies?
- What economical / societal benefits do you expect or hope for by decarbonizing your business?
- How do you plan to involve external stakeholders critical for achieving CO2 neutrality?
Vivi Hollertt: Markets worldwide rely on our chemistry in the manufacture of products, such as paper, plastics, building materials, food, pharmaceuticals, and personal care items. That is why we believe that in addition to improving our eco-footprint, we also need to grow — to provide more sustainable products, more bio-based materials, more circular chemistry. And we can’t operate in a silo: We serve our customers and at the same time also need to engage our employees and the communities in which we operate to drive progress together.
Improve, grow, engage: These form the three pillars or our sustainability approach ‘Nouryon’s Commitment to a Sustainable Future.’ And we have a strong foundation to build on: We are a top-quartile performer in safety, we have reduced our carbon footprint per ton of product by almost a third since 2009, and we continuously grow sales from our more sustainable ‘Eco Premium Solutions’.
When looking forward, we believe in making concrete steps right now, rather than focusing only on a distant future. Our next milestone is to reduce absolute emissions from our operations and energy use by 25% between 2020 and 2025.
But more importantly, we will grow our sustainable product portfolio as an integrated part of our business strategy to serve growing markets. For example, one of our largest recent acquisitions was in CMC, a cellulose product which supports the growth of more bio-based products for personal care, buildings and infrastructure, and other growth markets.
We strongly believe that sustainability will be a key growth driver in the coming years, and we should not underestimate the drive of market forces in pushing the large transformation in our industry.