The Chemical Industry Has No Time to Waste

Report: Circular Economy innovation within the chemical industry
The Chemical Industry Has No Time to Waste
Publ. date 21 Jun 2018
In response to the global threat imposed by resource scarcity and climate change, circular economy is highly regarded as a way to secure a sustainable future and to enable businesses and society to thrive.

Today’s biggest sustainability challenges provide plenty of opportunities for companies to differentiate themselves and to create immediate impact. Organizations in many industries are currently starting to implement circular business practices. However, not all chemical companies are already able or willing to start the transformation from a linear to a circular economy which is not an easy one.

The chemical industry has a huge innovation potential. Since 1990, production of the global chemical industry grew by 71% while the sector cut its CO2 emissions in half (-58%) – an impressive feat underlining its position as one of the world’s most innovative industries. Chemicals create the foundation for markets such as energy, food, and materials, and is essential to the development of national economies. Therefore, to make change happen, the $ 4,2 trillion industry plays a significant role.

Sector study chemicals industry

Between April and July 2016, Finch & Beak conducted a research on the maturity of circularity in the chemicals sector. The methodology consisted of a combination of desk research, an online questionnaire, in-depth interviews, and meta-data from Dow Jones Sustainability Index composer, RobecoSAM, and eRevalue. The study found that frontrunners are more often specialty chemicals companies, positioned at the end of the value chain. Their approach towards a circular model is characterized by a higher innovation success rate, more value chain collaboration and higher leadership commitment.

The main outcomes of the sector study are as follows:

  1. A solid innovation management strategy is key to develop a successful circular economy portfolio;
  2. Both an inside out and an outside in perspective are needed to determine where circular economy sweet spots are presented;
  3. A solid innovation strategy is an exigency to better leverage innovation outcomes through a better innovation process design;
  4.  Partnering capabilities are required to build a competitive value chain. This calls for a skill set that is not self-evident at most chemical companies;
  5. Leadership commitment as in any other transformation is a prerequisite for leading the circular economy transformation.



Starting to innovate for the circular economy?

Finch & Beak is an agency that accelerates business evolution on the world’s biggest challenges. With our focus on innovation opportunities and rapid concrete results, our customers highly value the quality of our work, our intimate approach, and strong partnering capabilities. We build business cases and turn them better and faster into value for both the company and society.

If your organization is interested in circular economy transformation,  contact us at for more information.

Image source: isado, Flickr

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