Securing growth in an environmentally demanding future

Brand owners, end consumers & legislation are globally driving stringent environmental demands to secure growth in the chemical industry - read the article

Elisa Swanson-Parbäck, Marketing Manager at Perstorp: “There is a shift in the general discussions around our environmental challenges. The tone is sharper, more demanding and the actions that need to be taken have moved or are moving from a growing mass of enlightened consumers to the working agenda of industry and political leaders. With the Emission Gap Report from November 2018, the UN came with a more urgent demand to cut emissions and the ripple effect could be heard even at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019, which I followed with interest. What is imminent is that the time for discussions is over and the urgency to act is upon us.”

The NGO’s and media’s drip, drip, mass education of the general public has been spectacularly successful in pushing sustainability and environmental impact to the top of the global agenda. Uniquely it is something that unites a whole planet even if the methods and strategies to support the environment often cause endless and sometimes furious debates. 

The eyes of the world are on us

The chemical industry is an obvious and rightful target for scrutiny given the impact on the planet and its people of harmful chemicals, toxic waste, air pollutants, and climate-changing CO2 emissions. A more environmentally radicalized, suspicious and caring public rightly demand safeguards when it comes to the production, sourcing, use and application of chemicals. As consumers, we want the reassurance that products are safe to use and increasingly sustainable, and this impacts brand owners to demand changes and reassurances through their value and supply chains. 

Resins and coatings is no different to any other part of the chemical industry, and there is real and continuous pressure on the resins and coatings value chains that they have to act and not just be dragged along by legislation.    

Governments and brands are environmentally accountable too 

Safety and consumer concerns are driving legislation in Asia too. In China, with its history of poor air quality both central and local governments are now implementing legislation that controls VOC to help minimize air pollution from coatings. Taxes are also being imposed on coatings that exceed proscribed VOC limits*.   

In Europe and United States, an increasingly vociferous public are making their environmental concerns felt and the Big Brands are listening to them. On a price comparative basis, consumers will opt for a product that has environmental credibility over those that are constructed from non-sustainable materials. How much more a consumer is prepared to pay for a sustainable vs. traditionally constructed product is open to debate, but the mere fact that consumers are prepared to vote with their environmental feet is encouraging leading brands to take more steps on the environmental path.

In an environmentally demanding future securing growth will rely more and more being seen to act responsibly towards people and the planet. 

Elisa Swanson-Parbäck continues: “We are strong believers in partnerships to solve the environmental challenges ahead of us. Our industry strives to sustain growth while at the same time facing issues such as pollution, waste or sourcing of renewables. We are increasingly seeing how brand owners are taking the steps to live up to the requirements of environmentally conscious consumers.  And legislation is supporting the progression of a sustainable future. And so do we at Perstorp, by understanding that our choices matter and that together in partnership we can address a common sustainability goal. To date our experts shared their expertise and knowledge in joint development with big global brands. Brands who we share the same vision with – that of a value adding future for our customers, our customers’ customers and the environment.”

*Paint and Coatings Industry Overview – IHS Chemical 2017