Enabling the development of sustainable societies

Society today faces substantial challenges associated with ageing populations, provision of healthcare, access to sustainable food and clean water.

As the population increases, more and more demands will be placed on the provision of such services and resources. This will create great competition for natural resources.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development estimates that by 2050, a four to tenfold increase in resource efficiency will be required. This challenge is not only a resource challenge, but a societal one, as key elements of society (technological developments, healthcare, environment) all depend on the availability and use of such resources. Society will rely increasingly on base organic chemicals, which constitute the building blocks of our modern society, and the petrochemical industry will make substantial contributions to fulfilling society’s needs. Chemical innovation will be critical in order to make these precious resources stretch further, create new applications and ensure we extract the greatest value possible.

Smart cities

Around three quarters of Europe’s population live in cities and these cities consume over 80% of the energy supply. By 2020, EU cities have been tasked with reducing their CO2 emissions by 20%, increasing their renewable energy use by 20% and increasing energy efficiency by 20%.

The current model is environmentally unsustainable and Europe needs to move towards developing ‘Smart Cities’ where energy consumption is greatly reduced, solutions to inner city mobility problems are identified, and the general standard of living is increased. Cities must therefore invest in and adopt low carbon technologies and solutions.

However, this is not just for future developments. One of the biggest challenges is adapting the existing housing and transportation networks and this will require substantial investment in new technologies to make them more environmentally friendly. The development of new concepts and new materials is urgently required and the petrochemical sector is at the heart of innovating products such as new foams, nano-foams, aerogels and advanced films, sealants and adhesives for easy application in environmental technologies.

Managing risks and protecting people

In comparison with the overall European manufacturing industry, the EU’s chemicals industry is twice as safe.

The chemicals sector has a target of zero incidents and fatalities, makes substantial investments in improving technology, and in implementing behaviour based safety (BBS) programmes. Petrochemicals Europe encourages each and every organisation in the European petrochemicals sector to implement and evolve best practice procedures to fully optimise the safety of its work environment and that of the communities in which it operates.