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Opinion: Driving value chain sustainability

by Guest on May 17, 2018

Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).
Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).

In order to achieve the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the GCC national visions, sustainability thinking along the value chain is imperative for the Arabian Gulf chemical producers, comments Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun of GPCA.

Supply chains are perhaps the most important aspect in the movement of goods and people. They help connect the world’s population, enable trade and boost the economic output of nations. If adequately built, transport infrastructure has the ability to last for decades. Some of the key investment avenues in the Arabian Gulf region include mega projects such as Khalifa Port, Riyadh Metro, New Doha Port, Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport, and strategic rail linkages.

This impressive growth, however, brings significant attention to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by transportation. The transportation sector represents the fastest growing GHG emissions and is expected to increase from 8.3Gt COE in 2010 to 11.19Gt COE in 2030.

The global picture

On 25 September 2015, under the umbrella of the United Nations (UN), countries adopted a set of 17 goals as part of a new sustainable development agenda to be achieved by 2030. Three of these goals have a direct implication on the sustainability of transport and its infrastructure: (i) Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation; (ii) Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; (iii) Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Key targets set under these goals include: (i) Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and cross-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all. (ii) By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities. (iii) Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries. (iv) Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.

The Circular Economy

To achieve these ambitious climate goals, there is a need to develop innovative models and technologies that can move us from ‘incremental change’ to ‘leapfrog’ improvement. One of the models that is gaining traction is that of Circular Economy and the potential of its impact is becoming increasingly clear and scalable.

A Circular Economy can be defined as a business model that contributes to an economy, which is regenerative by design  and intention, and is as waste-free as possible. A Circular Economy significantly disrupts the traditional linear model of ‘produce – use – throw’ and takes a deeper and broader look at how to capture commercial value across supply chains from a very practical perspective.

Accelerating the scale-up across global supply chains, this paper plays a crucial role in this market evolution by exploring how GPCA member companies can develop and utilise their own circular economies to drive arbitrage opportunities across complex, global supply chains.

The chemical industry is a vital solution provider to create a more energy efficient and low-carbon economy as demand for chemical products continues to grow. Increasingly, chemical companies are taking actions to reap the benefits of transitioning into a low-carbon society by developing low-carbon products and increasing the awareness of avoided emissions.

The chemical industry contributes to almost every modern technology and has long been developing innovative products that reduces GHG emissions over their complete life cycle. We see an increasing interest in measuring avoided emissions of greenhouse gases over the value chain to strengthen the unique selling points and boost the sales of climate responsible products. As an example, we would like to mention the development of plastics and polymer composites used to make cars lighter and thereby increase their efficiency.


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