Environmental impacts of the chemistry industry

Environmental impacts of the chemistry value chain are of high importance, particularly due to the fossil resources required as raw materials, and the pollution generated (water pollution and air pollution) by processing them and by their end-of-life disposal . A growing trend in the chemistry value chain is emerging, consisting for instance of using bio-based raw materials to replace fossil resources, thus improving the value chain’s impacts on environment. The Chemistry industry supplies key elements to an extremely wide range of activities and can contribute to the environmental transition directly or thanks to compounds, ingredients, catalysts or products, indirectly reducing vehicules’ emissions or improving pollution control, wastewater treatment, etc.

The framework is driven by final uses, which means that as soon as a significant share of an activity is identified to serve a specific application or sector (automobile, oil refining…), the end-market default NEC is applied. Plus, product specificities can worsen or improve environmental impacts at final use levels and at upstream and midstream process levels.

How the NEC measures the impacts of chemicals

In brief, the methodology used to calculate the environmental impacts of chemicals is based on all other sectorial frameworks using their default NEC value for the final uses, and is completed by specific incremental NEC components to capture the potential impact on final use as well as on specific characteristics, such as bio-based materials sourcing. More than 300 default values NEC covering all the NEC methodology frameworks are used: a sample of default final use NECs is presented here below.

Performance Indicators

As a result, the following indicators are used:
+ The NEC itself of the final application served and a NEC increment for the potential impact on final use
+ The share of bio-based products and the type of sourcing: damageable, controversial, certified, certified with robust certification or quantification
+ The share of pesticides and fertilizers as they have generally severe negative impacts on biodiversity, water, air quality and climate as illustrated by the default NEC below:

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    Designed to inform and empower investment decision makers, it uses physical data from across the whole value chain to provide a snapshot of an activity’s net environmental contribution and it can be applied at a company, portfolio, index or product/source level.

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    The NEC evaluates the impact of economic activities based on environmental issues including climate change, water and biodiversity impacts.
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