ICCA: growing role of petrochemicals in IEA report on the Future of Petrochemicals will lead to further enhancement of GHG emissions savings and improved plastic recycling

ICCA welcomes the report the International Energy Agency (IEA) published on Friday 5 October, entitled “The Future of Petrochemicals – Towards more sustainable plastics and fertilisers.” The reports recognizes the enabling role of petrochemicals for modern societies in their contribution to the production of multiple low-carbon solutions and technical applications such as solar panels, wind turbine blades, batteries, and electric vehicle parts.

ICCA shares IEA’s view that a growing global economy, a rising population and technological developments, will lead to an increase of petrochemicals products, and with that petrochemicals will become the largest driver of global oil consumption beyond 2030, especially in view of the decrease of oil demands for fuels.

The global chemical industry also recognizes the need to address environmental challenges associated with petrochemicals globally, especially when it comes to burning or decomposing products at the end of their life-cycle. However, even though the chemical sector consumes roughly as much energy as the steel and cement sectors combined, it emits less CO2 than either sector. In addition, a groundbreaking study by McKinsey & Company found that on a global basis, for every unit of GHGs emitted directly and indirectly by the chemical industry, more than two units of emission savings are enabled via products and technologies provided to other industries and consumers. The study highlights the industry’s vital role as an enabler of solutions by helping society to reduce the world’s GHG emissions by making products that both save energy and create a net emission reduction along the chemical value chain

The report highlights plastic recycling & reuse as one important pillar to meet the environmental challenges.  New technologies such as Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage, catalytic processes and global shifts from coal to gas can further enhance GHG emission savings so that by 2050 cumulative CO2 emission savings equal some 50% of the current annual emissions of the Petrochemical sector.

ICCA supports the emphasis on waste management improvements to rapidly increase recycling. However, proposals such as the reduction of the use of single use of plastics or penalties for packaging which limits recycling will not increase plastic recycling in general.

We affirm that there is a “blind spot” in the global climate discussion when it comes to petrochemicals: Few recognize the enormous energy savings and GHG reductions achieved by the increased use of chemistry products. We look forward to continuing to meet global demand for materials and technologies that improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.