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Carbon is and will remain at the very heart of our value chains, embedded in chemicals that make the materials and consumer products we all use, said Marco Mensink, Director General of Cefic.

Mensink was responding to the communication of the European Commission last week on Sustainable Carbon Cycles. It states that we must establish sustainable and climate-resilient carbon cycles through three key actions:

  1. Drastically reducing our reliance on carbon, by reducing primary resource consumption and moving to a circular economy, and scaling up renewable energy.
  2. Recycling carbon from waste streams, from sustainable sources of biomass or directly from the atmosphere, to use it in place of fossil carbon in the sectors of the economy that will inevitably remain carbon dependent. The circular economy and the sustainable bioeconomy sectors can address this objective and should promote technological solutions for carbon capture and use (CCU) and the production of sustainable synthetic fuels or other non-fossil based carbon products.
  3. Upscaling carbon removal solutions that capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for the long term, either in ecosystems through nature protection and carbon farming solutions or in other storage forms through industrial solutions while ensuring no negative impact on biodiversity or ecosystem deterioration.

“As you can see in the new EU strategy, the chemical industry plays a central role”, according to Mensink, who adds the chemical industry has already made significant progress in reducing carbon intensity, notably through energy efficiency. “Through recycling, we can close the remaining carbon loops. For example, re-using the emissions of other industries can bring valuable feedstocks to our sector, adding to the opportunity. In the longer term, using carbon directly captured from the air, we can create the chemistry of the future and reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere at the same time. We find this field very exciting.”

“Securing access to alternative carbon sources from waste, industrial processes, and bio-based resources is an absolute necessity to achieve the ultimate goal of climate neutral value chains. An area to work on soon is the definitions and accounting frameworks that allow the industry to move forward fast.”

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