How Sustainability is Molding the Chemical Industry

11/01/2021

How Sustainability is Molding the Chemical Industry

The chemical industry faces complexities every day. From safety regulations to handling and shipping these products, making, and delivering chemicals is no easy task. One of the significant challenges facing the chemical industry today is the pressure for sustainability. With climate change in the spotlight, consumers are taking notice, and sustainability is molding the chemical industry. 

Changing the Old Ways

While safety, service, and costs are still important aspects of the chemical industry, sustainability is becoming an important detail. The industry faces pressure from activists, lawmakers, and the public to become more sustainable to help battle climate change. 

A big issue arising for the chemical industry is that most people have trouble putting the words “green” with “chemicals.” This idea is something progressive, and future chemists are trying to help the industry adapt.

And while it’s not ideal to pay more money for creating products, it’s the path we’re headed. Studies show that more than three-quarters of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce their own carbon footprint. Additionally, more than one-third are willing to spend more money on products that help with sustainability. 

Sustainability Issues within the Chemical Industry

With over 881 million tons of chemicals transported in previous years, this industry is growing and on the rise. Yet, with its growth comes an increase of challenges on the chemical industry to meet sustainability goals. 

One major goal for sustainability is reducing one’s carbon footprint in the world. For the chemical industry, abiding by modern environmental standards like replacing petroleum-based combustion engines with electronic vehicles, or manufacturing with plant-based materials over oil-based, can help achieve carbon reduction. However, the chemical industry has several issues to resolve to meet this goal.

One of those issues is plastic. Over one-third of the plastic we use is single-use, meaning that after one use of a water bottle, zip lock bag, or straw, for example, these items are thrown away. The “Plastic Waste Markers Index,” published by the Minderoo Foundation, calculated that energy and chemical companies are the sources of half of the world’s single-use plastic waste. Single-use plastic accounts for most of the waste harming marine life and seeping into land when burned. This issue is not taken lightly. Many lawmakers and activists are acting to introduce a new form of recyclable and reusable plastic. 

Major oil spills in recent years have become a rising issue as well. One major oil spill was the Exxon Valdez off the coast of Alaska in 1989, with over eleven million gallons of oil spilled in the ocean. Some more recent ones were the True Oil pipeline in 2020, the tanker truck rollover in 2020, and more. 

Finding Sustainable Solutions

The chemical industry is working hard to find new solutions to be more sustainable. One of the significant changes being made is reducing the rise of fossil fuels.

The use of hybrid or electric vehicles has been on the rise, and we’ve seen significant sales growth for these types of vehicles. People are turning away from pumping gasoline to plug their cars into an electric outlet. While these electric vehicles are not yet popular in the trucking industry, many companies are working to build new electronic trucks. Not to mention, President Biden’s recent executive order aimed at making half of all new vehicles (including semitrailers) sold in 2030 electric

Fossil fuels also play a part in plastics. Single-use plastics are made from polymers, with their base material from fossil fuels. As companies strive to reduce their plastic use or manufacturing, it simultaneously reduces fossil fuel use. 

However, with new rules to reduce single-use plastic items, the logistics field will need to find new sustainable ways to package shipments. Currently, products are packaged and shipped in some sort of plastic. 

Although these seem like small changes that one person can easily make, the companies that use or manufacture these products face major changes to their business. As severe weather and climate change continue to be front and center worldwide, chemical companies feel the pressure to make these changes towards sustainability.

We’re Here to Help You

Sustainability affects all practices for the chemical industry, including their logistics. Here at Trinity, we’re here to help you reach your logistics goals, including those on sustainability. We offer several modes of transportation, including intermodal, which can reduce your carbon footprint. Our Team of experts can help recommend customized solutions like freight consolidation as another way to be more sustainable with your freight transportation. Or you can consider using technology, like our best-in-class transportation management system, to gain efficiencies and data-driven insights into your logistics, which can also help you with sustainability in your logistics. 

We know sustainability practices are necessary for every business. This is why we take pride in our efforts and are proud of our earned recognition as both an SDCE Green Supply Chain Award winner and as a Food Logistics Top Green Provider. 

If you’ve been looking for a like-minded logistics partner to reach your goals, we’re here and ready to help.

See how we can help you with sustainability in your logistics.

Author: Turner Lee