Material and energy efficiency

People need natural resources to produce food and energy and manufacture products. In the chemicals industry, every effort is made to use materials and energy as efficiently as possible.

Materials efficiency means that materials are used in a way that generates a minimum amount of wastage throughout the products’ life cycle but without compromising on the quality and competitiveness of the products or services. Materials efficiency is monitored in the context of the Responsible Care programme adopted by the chemicals industry worldwide. In fact, chemicals is the first industry to introduce industry-specific indicators for monitoring materials efficiency.

Energy efficiency, in turn, means reduced energy consumption or greater efficiency at the same rate of consumption. In the chemicals industry, energy efficiency is promoted with a range of measures, such as energy audits. Energy efficiency has improved by over 20% in the chemicals industry since systematic monitoring was commenced in 1995 as part of the Responsible Care programme.

Operations aimed at maximum materials and energy efficiency improve competitiveness, reduce the environmental impact and contribute to the sustainability of natural resources. However, at present, natural resources are being depleted at a faster rate than they can be replaced, and various ways of saving materials and energy have therefore become an important part of operations in the chemicals industry.