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The chemical industry is a major consumer of carbon and its demand will increase in the future. Chemicals and polymers currently contain about 450 million tonnes of carbon, mostly from fossil sources. Commissioned by Unilever, the nova Institute investigated whether and how this can be replaced by renewable carbon by 2050.
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The report “Turning off the Tap for Fossil Carbon” examines for the first time the total amount of carbon embedded in products from the chemicals and derived materials sector on a global scale. It covers diverse product groups, such as plastics, rubbers, textile fibres, detergents and personal care products.

The researchers show how the chemical and materials industries can make systemic changes to reduce their environmental footprint. Currently, 85% of annual carbon demand is generated by fossil fuel sources, 10% by biomass and only 5% by recycling. To achieve long-term sustainable change, fossil carbon must be replaced by renewable carbon from biomass, recycling and CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilisation).

The free report can be downloaded from the nova Institute website. It will also be presented at the first International Renewable Carbon Conference, from 18 to 20 April. See the agenda for details.

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