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Consumer demand for sustainability leads to green focus for chemical industry

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 29-Jan-2013

Customers are now asking suppliers for more information on sustainable products
Customers are now asking suppliers for more information on sustainable products

As consumers become more interested in greener products, this demand is filtering down the supply chain, resulting in the global chemical industry focusing more on sustainability.

Looking at the cosmetics industry in particular, there has been a greater focus on what goes into products as well as a concern for how these products impact the environment.

Consumer demand for natural cosmetics products grew 13.9 percent last year, according to research analyst Kline.

Having a ‘natural’ or ‘green’ product has now become an advantage for cosmetics companies and this means that chemical firms are being asked for relevant products to satisfy this demand.

‘Very important’

A survey conducted by Genomatica and market researcher ICIS, revealed that the chemical industry is increasingly focusing on sustainability; with almost half of producers saying it is 'very important' that they are a front-runner in sustainable chemicals, whilst the majority said their customers have expressed interest in sustainable chemicals.

Both producers and users are incorporating sustainability in their current practices and renewable materials have become increasingly important.

One of the most important factors for users is minimal impact on product performance or characteristics; similarly, for producers it is minimal impact on downstream products and customers.

Big shift

"We've seen a big shift from several years ago, when increasing sustainability was viewed more as a cost than a benefit," said John Baker, global editor of ICIS.

"A majority of companies in the chemical industry have now incorporated sustainability into business practices and are looking to it as a way not only to reduce environmental impact but also to lower costs and meet customer requirements. These are all strong drivers toward more sustainable everyday products being made from renewable-based chemicals."

Genomatica's CEO Christophe Schilling added: "We are also encouraged to see the sea-change in the industry's optimism about commercial-readiness and the potential for cost savings using renewables technology. We expect to see great progress in the industry delivering on that promise."

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