(MENAFN Press) Community engagement is the next big opportunity for the GCC's petrochemicals industry, delegates were told during Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) inaugural Sustainability Conference.
"The GCC has already done great work in the areas of energy and water conservation. Distrust of the industry continues to be a challenge for all of us so the more we get our message [across] to understand what we're doing, such as ensuring product safety, this will serve us well," said Neil Hawkins, Vice President of Sustainability, The Dow Chemical Company
Dow has already achieved its 2005 sustainability goals which resulted in reducing solid waste by 1.6 billion pounds, water use by 183 billion pounds and saved 900 trillion BTUs of energy. This resulted in the company saving 5bn on a 1bn investment.
Sustainability needs decisions to be made with the future in mind, said Hawkins. A framework needs to be built into the decision-making process in order to give value to all and there must be collaboration between all industry players, including academics, NGOs, governments and customers.
Companies in the petrochemicals industry must also take ownership of the impact they have which involves knowing and understanding the risks, designing appropriate risk management measures, communicating these risks to the public and continuous monitoring and re-evaluation of activities, he added.
Atieh Abu Raqabah, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability, SABIC, said that sustainability drives innovation, adding that SABIC invents 150 new products each year.
With the world's population set to increase to more than nine billion by 2050, there is an urgent need to look at more sustainable ways of operating within the petrochemicals industry. For example, Abu Raqabah said that the recovery of carbon dioxide could be used to make polymers-commonly known as plastic-and be a huge achievement for the industry.
Sustainability is a key area of focus for the GPCA itself which estimates that less than 10% of plastic is recycled in the Gulf. Out of the 80 million tons of waste generated in the GCC each year, 26 million tons is plastic waste due to the high consumption of consumer products like food packaging and plastic bags.
The GPCA's 'Clean up the Gulf' initiative will include new markets in 2014, including Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Jeddah and Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, said Dr. Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA. The GPCA also expects a 50 per cent increase in the participation of its member companies.
The GPCA Sustainability Conference was held from 17-19 December in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in DIFC. For more information please visit www.gpcasustainability.com