EPCA Conference 2022 follow-up: “Stop trying to squeeze the last drop out of the suppliers” / Circularity and waste other key topics
Circularity is key, according to the EPCA panellists in Berlin (Photo: PIE)
There was no shortage of pithy statements during the opening panel discussion at the annual conference of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA, Brussels; in Berlin on 4 October 2022 (see of 06.10.2022).

Towards the end of the talks, Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri capped things off by emphasising that profit margin is not everything for her group and called on the industry to replace profit maximisation with fairer sharing when dealing with suppliers. “We have to stop trying to squeeze the last drop out of them. Our value chain will only survive if our suppliers survive.”

The nods of the other discussion participants could be interpreted as agreement. But is the petrochemical industry really facing a paradigm shift in its profit strategies?

Kadri shared the stage with Shell senior VP for chemicals Thomas Casparie, Agylix CEO Tim Stedman, and, as a representative of the so-called future now generation, Ilsu Erdem Ari, with McKinsey partner Per Klevnäs moderating the panel, and the participants agreed on one thing: for the polymer industry, the future lies in waste.

Currently, only about 12% of plastics waste is recycled. To increase this rate and spur the circular economy, all actors are required, Stedman said. “We need innovation, collaboration, and investment.” He said there are still no initiatives on the recycling side for the comprehensive collection and sorting of plastics waste. Kadri echoed that view. “Without input material, we can’t produce green polymers. We need to close the gap between collection and feedstock.”

At the same time, the Solvay chief demanded that the public be made more aware of the importance of the petrochemical industry in a developed society: “People out there finally have to understand: the chemical industry is not our enemy. Chemistry is the mother of all industries.”
Plotting possible paths
Politics have got to deliver: Thomas Casparie from Shell (Photo: PIE)
Ari stated plainly how important the image of an industry is for its future viability. “Nowadays, anyone who wants to go into the petrochemical industry as a university graduate is stigmatised by those around them. This must be counteracted by communication as soon as possible.”

With a nod to the CO2 stockpiling technology carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is politically controversial in many parts of Europe, Shell’s Casparie said, “Politicians must push the trend towards a circular economy through regulation. We need ambitious politicians who are not afraid of new technologies. Only then can we as a petrochemical industry transform ourselves.”
07.10.2022 [251310-0]
Published on 07.10.2022
EPCA-Konferenz: Petrochemiebranche sieht im Abfall ihre ZukunftGerman version of this article...

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