What Could Be Next for Chemical Companies

The next big horizon for creating value through sustainability in the chemical industry is systematically using sustainability as a value-creating insight in new product development. The chemical industry has the potential to lead the way to solutions to a number of environmental and social dilemmas. Among the innovations in the industry with the ability to add substantial societal value are:

• Nanotechnology materials and catalysts;

• Coatings without solvents;

• Advanced membranes;

• Electro-conductive chemicals.

As an industry, there is a large potential to create additional shareholder value by strategically engaging stakeholders and forming partnerships with commercial and noncommercial partners who have the ability to drive the demand for sustainability attributes and reduce risks.

While the industry has accomplished a great deal by using sustainability as an insight to improve operations by driving out costs and reducing risks, there is certainly room to create more shareholder value through this avenue. To effectively unlock this, companies will most likely need to develop the capacity to systematically measure the value created by these types of sustainability efforts to put profitable footprint reduction on the same sort of routine platform as quality control through Six Sigma.

To truly unlock the potential value to shareholders, chemical companies will not only have to expand their ability to create value through sustainability, they will also need to measure it at the corporate level. This is a necessary precursor to being able to explain to the investment community how sustainability is creating value. The end game would be to be able to treat these efforts as they would other strategic initiatives by explaining how they will create value, how they will measure that value, and what results to expect in the future.

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