Richard Ward, Commercial Vice President for Brenntag UK & Ireland, spoke to CHEMUK following the keynote presentation in Harrogate at the inaugural event.
CHEMUK: Richard, speaking about sustainability, where do you feel the chemical industry is, at present, in contributing to the ideals of the ‘circular economy?
RW: The chemical industry as a whole has traditionally been very strong and taken a leadership position in circularity — incorporating the principle that the
by-product from one process is the raw material for another. These types of environmentally elegant solutions have allowed the industry to develop many innovative products and minimise environmental impact. From a chemical distribution perspective, the use of returnable packaging in supply chains is one of the simplest and most effective forms of recycling that industry can support. A typical returnable package will last anything from two to ten years and by using this option, companies can significantly reduce their carbon footprint as well as the direct and indirect costs associated with waste disposal. Today, it is almost inconceivable that householders send waste paper and plastic to landfill so why is it different in some areas of the industry? We think that by continuing to promote the benefits of a returnable packaging fleet we can continue to drive the benefits to the overall economy.
CHEMUK: Where do you see the biggest opportunities in the chemicals industry to use more sustainable products and practices?
RW: As the global market leader in chemical distribution, Brenntag connects chemical manufacturers and users in a value creating partnership. Brenntag’s key role in this partnership offers huge potential but also requires an obligation, we believe, to contribute towards greater sustainability within the industry. Sustainability is already a big topic and will be ever more influential in the future as a driver for innovation, new products and services. We need new products that generate less waste, are biodegradable, are able to replace products that get out-dated and generate less C02 in their production, distribution, and use. The chemical industry can contribute much here as nearly every industry has to work on such issues.
CHEMUK: Are there any future developments planned at Brenntag in relation to its chemical distribution offering?
RW: We all know that our private lives are much more influenced by digital innovations, but of course business life is also affected. Brenntag is fully embracing this next stage of the company’s development and the opportunities this new era brings. As a global market leader, Brenntag is in a very good position to lead this change in chemical distribution industry and shape it. We need to keep doing what works, modify what can be done better, and invent new ways to create true value for our partners.