Sustainability front and center at World Petrochemical Conference

SustainabilityChanging consumer sentiment toward plastics and the need for the plastics and petrochemical industry to help develop systemic, sustainable solutions to address plastics waste will be an overarching theme at WPC 2019, The Golden Age of Chemicals: A Question of Sustainability. The world’s premier petrochemical conference will be held on March 19 to 22, 2019, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX. Hosted by global business information provider IHS Markit, the event will feature 135 speakers and 1,500 attendees from more than 40 countries.

The issue of sustainability and plastics waste has become so significant to producers and other companies in the value chain that it will also be the focus of a special seminar on March 19 during WPC 2019.

Global demand for polyethylene (PE), the world’s most used plastic, has nearly doubled since 1999. According to IHS Markit, global demand for PE was 50 million metric tons (MMT) in 1999; in 2019, demand is expected to exceed 105 MMT.

“As more consumers in developing countries such as China and India increase their spending power and join the global economy, we are witnessing truly phenomenal growth in demand for the key plastics that are critical to so many of the products and life essentials we rely on every day, such as cell phones, computers, food and beverage packaging, clothes, cars and even life-saving medical devices,” said Nick Vafiadis, IHS Markit Vice President. “That consumption growth, though, comes with greater expectations and responsibility, both for plastics producers and consumers. We at IHS Markit are focused on how producers and consumers can work together to address the issues of sustainability and management of plastics recycling, reuse or waste reduction. This will drive our discussions during the sustainability seminar at WPC.”

As announcements of additional polyolefins capacity and images of plastic pollution share global headlines, the need for a differentiated and sustainable plastic industry is emerging, from a linear—take-make-dispose—economy to a circular—recover-innovate-reuse—economy, said IHS Markit.

“In my conversations with the leaders of plastics resins producers and manufacturers, it is clear the plastics industry understands the need to be very proactive in embracing sustainability across the entire supply chain,” Vafiadis said. “This includes leading stakeholder discussions and finding ways to partner with retailers, consumers, recyclers, and even designers to plan for second-life uses for products after they are initially consumed.”

Image courtesy Robert Kneschke/Adobe Stock.

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