Our society benefits from what nature has to offer, but in some cases these gains have been achieved at the cost of diminishing biodiversity and degrading ecosystems. Protecting ecosystems is a key issue for the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry, because its companies both impact and depend on these ecosystems. Therefore, a loss of biodiversity has important implications for the long-term viability of businesses.
Issues related to biodiversity arise along the whole value chain, from the supply of raw materials to the consumption of products and treatment of waste material. Already in 2013, the European sector organization Cefic developed a guidance document on this subject. To date, however, only indirect indicators at the sector level are available to monitor impacts on biodiversity. The sector’s efforts to minimise its impact on emissions, water quality and climate are quantified in the other environmental indicators in this report.
The chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry is also aware of its impact on biodiversity in relation to the sourcing of its raw materials, especially given the increasing importance of renewable resources as feedstock for the industry (see Resource Efficiency indicator). Use of biomass as a resource for food, material, or energy should always be as efficient as possible. The best choice of use of available biomass for a given territory will depend on the origin, availability and processability of the feedstock and of the market needs of the products. Even if we emphasise first unlocking the potential of non-food and waste streams, it should be possible, when proven efficient and sustainable, to use primary biomass such as sugar or vegetable oil for a certain application in a certain area. This is already happening right now, and there is potential for sustainable growth. We have for instance examples in Belgium of a sustainable use of sugar beet, a food quality biomass, used as feedstock for making chemicals, without negatively impacting food supply in Belgium. We also encourage the use of the ‘side streams’ of processed raw materials.
DETIC, the sector association responsible among others for Detergents and Cosmetics, has signed the Charter of the Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, which respects this principle of responsible use of natural resources.
Finally, member companies are engaged in preserving and re-enforcing were possible nature values on their sites in Belgium.