Planet – Biodiversity
Biodiversity for the long-term viability of the sector.
Our society benefits from what nature has to offer, but in some cases these gains have been achieved at the cost of diminishing biodiversity and degrading ecosystems. Protecting ecosystems is a key issue for the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry, because its companies both impact and depend on these ecosystems. Therefore, a loss of biodiversity has important implications for the long-term viability of businesses.
Issues related to biodiversity arise along the whole value chain, from the supply of raw materials to the consumption of products and treatment of waste material. The European sector organization Cefic developed a guidance document on this subject in 2013. To date, however, only indirect indicators at the sector level are available to monitor impacts on biodiversity. The sector’s efforts to minimise its impact on emissions, water quality and climate are quantified in the other environmental indicators in this report.
The chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry is also aware of its impact on biodiversity in relation to the sourcing of its raw materials, especially given the increasing importance of renewable resources as feedstock for the industry. The sector is fully committed to the principle of a cascaded use of biomass, which means that biomass is used firstly for food and feed, with the left-overs then used first for the production of high-added value chemicals and then to produce energy. It also encourages the use of the ‘side streams’ of processed raw materials.
Detic, the sector association responsible among others for Detergents and Cosmetics, has signed the Charter of the Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, which respects this principle of responsible use of natural resources.
When considering the impact of activities on the environment and biodiversity, it is important to take into account the complete lifecycle of a product, including the sourcing of the raw materials, the production phase, the transport, the use phase, and the waste or recycling phase. Today, there are many green labels and certification schemes, making it difficult to compare and get a complete picture. essenscia prefers scientifically-sound systems based on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). Companies from the industry and Detic are also involved in the European pilot project on ‘Product Environmental Footprint’ (PEF), which aims to develop standardized European methods based on LCA to calculate the environmental footprint of a range of consumer products and to develop ways to inform consumers.