Sustainable development: Industry out to prove commitment
By Anne Eckstein | Friday 11 May 2012
With the publication of its first-ever sustainability report, on 8 May, the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) kicked off a campaign meant to demonstrate the industry’s determination to play a key role in sustainable development. The report will be followed, at the end of the year, by the launch of flagship initiatives designed to heighten and improve the sector’s contribution to the sustainability policy agenda, which includes environmental, health and safety and chemicals management practices. The CEFIC approach is based on the long term, since it has already announced a second sustainability report in 2014.
According to CEFIC
(1), the European chemical industry not only has the capability but also the responsibility of addressing societal challenges of sustainability such as energy, water, raw materials or, more broadly, resource efficiency. It intends to do so transparently and through an “open” dialogue with all parties concerned.
Drafted by the CEFIC Sustainability Strategy Group, set up in 2011, the report provides information on the performance of the European chemical industry and maps out the sector’s evolution towards greater sustainability. Its review focuses on three areas: 1. the planet (from emissions reduction and waste management to energy efficiency); 2. people (from employee safety to employment and labour productivity); and 3. profit (from added value and trade competitiveness to R&D spending and investment). It measures the chemical industry’s performance based on 17 key performance indicators (KPIs) under the three traditional pillars of economic development, social development and environmental protection. These KPIs, notes CEFIC, constitute a powerful tool to help the industry identify opportunities for improvement.
The report also highlights the importance of ‘smart’ legislation and voluntary efforts by the industry. Interestingly, CEFIC President Giorgio Squinzi heaped praise on the REACH Regulation (registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemical products), which had nevertheless been severely criticised throughout the adoption procedure. He held it up as an example, saying it should be applied globally.
The report also presents examples of innovative products and initiatives by companies and sectors in the areas of energy and climate change mitigation, food and water, mobility and housing. It also highlights the role of innovation in addressing the challenges and opportunities of the future.(1) The document is available at
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