Innovations and business

It has been predicted that by 2030 the growing mankind will need 50% more food, 45% more energy, and 30% more clean water. Ensuring sustainable welfare is the greatest challenge of our time. The circular economy enables the decoupling of economic growth from the growth of the use of natural resources. Solutions and innovations provided by the chemical industry are vital in the development of a more circular economy.

A considerable share of the innovations and growth within the chemical sector is related to bioeconomy and the circular economy, e.g.:  

  • biofuels, such as renewable diesel, bioethanol and biogas
  • biobased chemicals, such as xylitol, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), starch derivatives, industrial enzymes and products refined from tall oil to be used e.g. in paints, adhesives and feed
  • solutions related to water chemistry and water management
  • fertilisers and nutrients
  • waste-refining technologies, e.g. the production of recycled plastic raw materials

As the chemical sector is involved in nearly all value networks of the manufacturing industries, its innovations and solutions boost the renewal of other sectors, too. For example, a new tall-oil-based performance additive promotes the recycling of asphalt, and optimised chemistry brings raw material savings in board-making and enables the use of the food industry’s side streams in cosmetic products.

The spectrum of companies within the chemical industry is large. Different kinds of raw materials are being utilised by the companies, including renewables and fossil and mineral-based materials. The circular economy encompasses all chemical companies, and many of them have already integrated its principles in the core of their business.

Several R&D&I projects related to bioeconomy and the circular economy are ongoing in Finland and in Europe. In addition to technology development, new ways of co-operation and new business models are needed. For example, the increase of service integration in products and development of new platforms and ecosystems boosting co-operation are of crucial importance. In the chemical sector, the share of R&D&I of all investments is considerable, as high tech and new tech form the core of the sector’s competence.

Other sources

Accenture study (2017) on European chemical industry and the circular economy

 

 

Pia Vilenius
Senior Advisor, Bioeconomy and Circular Economy
M. Sc. (Env. Sc. & Tech.)

+358 40 413 6340

pia.vilenius­@kemianteollisuus.fi