A sustainable role for the chemical sector

By Steffan Huber
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, February 22, 2016
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Multinational chemical corporations, with their decades-long "clean-up" experience, can help China's overall industry raise standards through best practice sharing and dialogue. Their know-how in different aspects of chemical production, from efficient energy use and water utilization in production, to safety standards and waste disposal, can be shared with or licensed to other chemical companies operating in China. Improvements of plants and use of advanced energy-reduced or resource-saving technologies will help to improve production performance while at the same time reducing resource consumption and waste generation and emissions.

Sustainability as stipulated in the 13th Five-Year Plan does not stop at improved production processes. It calls for higher quality products and consumer solutions. Here, chemicals and materials from sustainable production can play an even bigger role in enabling applications that improve energy saving or environmental protection. Below is one example where materials are making a difference:

China has already overtaken the United States as the world's largest automotive market and millions more vehicles will hit the roads in the years to come. Vehicle emissions are one of the main culprits of the choking smog that frequently covers China's cities and the government is looking at stricter emissions standards to curb pollution. By making vehicles as light as possible, less fuel is used and less exhaust gases are emitted for every kilometre spent on the road. Heavy metal parts are increasingly replaced by lighter parts for chassis, interiors or windows made from high-tech plastics such as polycarbonate. Such parts are also easier to produce than metal ones and they open up new design options, especially for electric vehicles.

The chemical industry can undoubtedly play a significant role in the new Chinese economy, not only as the provider of sustainable solutions but also as the promoter and enabler of innovative approaches and R&D efforts.

In its 13th Five-Year Plan, China has vowed to embrace a sustainable development model by implementing a more exacting environmental protection system to actively control and reduce carbon emissions. By stringently focusing on addressing its challenges, China's chemical industry has a chance to prove that it remains relevant to the country's development through the creation of value for both the economy and society at large.

The author is Senior Covestro Representative, Greater China.

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