Transition Pathway for the Chemical Industry

The European Commission published the document in January 2023. Its purpose is to support both the green and digital transition of European Industry. The key topics and actions are presented in the document as a roadmap consisting of three components:

  • Action-oriented roadmap
  • Technology roadmap
  • Regulatory roadmap
Cefic are fully committed to helping the industry go climate neutral by 2050 and they describe the four dimensions of the transition as:
  • Going circular – reducing the use of non-renewable resources during production
  • Going digital – using latest technologies to improve transparency and efficiency
  • Going climate neutral – pushing for major changes and breakthrough innovations in production processes and development of the necessary infrastructure
  • Safe & sustainable chemicals – phasing out the most harmful substances from consumer products.

Cefic have committed to disseminate this to all relevant stakeholders who would then present their commitments specifying the actions and topics that they will contribute to. With that in mind, Cefic will be presenting their latest viewpoints on the Transition pathway at the ECTA Annual General Meeting in Dusseldorf in November.

So perhaps now is a good time to find out what the Transition Pathway means to the Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) and how they are already considering the challenges and opportunities that it brings.

how do ecta members assess the impact?

We interviewed a number of the leading service providers and it is clear that they already have strategies in place to support the green deal but the Transition Pathway document in itself is not yet having a big impact and is not something that customers are talking about. A number of key themes came out of these conversations:

  • Sustainability feels like safety was 20-30 years ago in that measures start off being voluntary and good practice but are becoming mandatory through regulation
  • Sustainability initiatives cost money and who will pay – businesses need to remain commercially viable. One example was for an electric truck used within a transport depot which is four times the cost of its diesel powered predecessor
  • Governments still need to lead on technology and infrastructure. Companies are holding back on investment due to uncertainty. Although trials of new technologies are taking place there is no significant breakthrough change in becoming carbon neutral
  • Customers have become more price sensitive since the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushed up energy prices. Consequently, they will select routes on price rather than those with the lowest GHG emissions
  • Those members who already have a high number of multi-modal journeys, will welcome any developments which improve multi-modal hubs and the rail infrastructure (These are key aspects of the Transition Pathway). They are well set up to deal with this.
  • ECTA is committed to informing its members about the latest safety, sustainability and digital evolutions as part of this transition within Chemicals and helps to set and communicate the standards to all stakeholders. The recent ECTA zero emission knowledge platform and digitalization webinars have been well received as they have helped to remove some of the confusion around the regulatory framework.

in summary

In summary, proactive companies who already have a strategy around sustainability have been collaborating on projects and initiatives and the Transition Pathway within the Chemical sector will reinforce rather than cause a change of direction. For other (undecided) companies, any expectation of assistance or indeed that further regulations will not come, may prove just wishful thinking.