Seven ideas for a sustainable future


A climate neutral world is possible. The chemical industry wants to lead the way by using renewable energy, alternative materials and developing sustainable technologies. Here are seven ideas for a more sustainable and, of course, circular future I shared at the 55th Annual Meeting of European Petrochemical Association (EPCA).

1. We have to embrace circularity as guiding principle.
The time of linear economy of “take, make, waste” production and consumption isn't compatible with the challenges facing the world today. Climate change, population growth, unsustainable lifestyles – surmounting global challenges like these require embracing Circular Economy as a guiding light. The chemical industry wants to be a trailblazer on this journey.

2. We need collaboration.
Society, businesses, and governments must cooperate across borders and beyond industry sectors to bring the idea of a Circular Economy to life. Let’s join forces, time for individual players is over. We have to work together to find and implement practical new solutions.

3. Green electricity is key.
Renewables like solar and wind energy are needed: fast, cheap and in abundance. To pave the way to climate-neutral production, we have to electrify processes and make our electricity grids fit for the future. Green electricity is also key for the next point.

4. The rapid ramp up a hydrogen economy.
Green hydrogen is the key element of a sustainable future, but it’s not readily available and expensive. We have to expand the demand, infrastructure and production to get a functioning market up and running. And we need to involve international partners to cover the expected demand. Further we must not miss the momentum of our days.

5. We must stick open to every technology.
It’s no question if we use CO2 or biomass as raw material of the future. We will use both. Bans on thinking will get us nowhere. Let's trust in the innovative power of our engineers.

6. Carbon leakage is a threat for climate protection.
Climate change does not care whether we produce emissions in the EU or in Asia. Industry does. The industry wants to contribute to climate protection in Europe. To do so, it needs the support of policymakers to remain competitive throughout its transformation.

7. Chemical recycling is a rising star.
Chemical recycling is the only sensible way to recycle certain plastics. It is therefore necessary to promote and develop chemical recycling as a supplement to mechanical recycling. One example: It is possible to recycle soft polyurethane foam in mattresses. This makes it possible to completely recover the two core raw materials used in polyurethane.

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