Chemical industry regulation is an 'opportunity'
Becoming more environmentally friendly and complying with legislation such as REACH is an opportunity as much as a challenge for the chemical industry, according to the sector's trade association.Diana Montgomery from the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) said official regulations were forcing companies to talk more to their customers and suppliers.
Voluntary compliance schemes are also gaining more weight in the industry and membership of the CIA now includes a compulsory commitment to sign up to the Responsible Care programme.
"REACH has really made us stop and think about stopping and talking to our customers and our suppliers," she said.
"It's really a difficult thing to do but the opportunities that can come out of it with having really good conversations with not just your customers but your customers' customers."
A survey carried out by the CIA found that 100% of those questioned said they had made their products more sustainable.
Almost the same number said they thought that sustainable production and consumption is high on the political agenda.
But only just over two thirds said switching to more sustainable practices is an opportunity as well as a challenge, or extra cost.
"The key areas where they think they need to do better are supply chain communication, which is not surprising," Ms Montgomery said.
"But surprisingly in processes too. We would expect them to be doing better on that by now."
However, the chemical industry is improving its environmental record all the time, Ms Montgomery argued.
Environment Agency figures showed 48% of chemical sites were rated at the top level for operator performance in 2006 - an increase from 42% the year before.