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Leading with Chemistry: What We Do Is Essential—And So Is How We Do It

American Chemistry Council 150 Years

Known for decades as the central science, more recently chemistry has earned yet another new moniker—the Science Behind Sustainability—making chemistry, and the facilities that produce chemistry, essential to creating a cleaner, safer, and healthier world.

What We Do: Essential, Innovative Products

Chemistry is synonymous with innovation – and now, it’s also synonymous with sustainable development.

Chemistry-enabled products contribute to 13 of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When the deep social impact of our companies’ and industry’s global presence are factored in, chemistry can be said to influence all 17 SDGs.

You don’t have to search far to see why chemistry is integral to sustainability. Just look at some of the products driving sustainability forward, and the essential role that chemistry plays:

Despite these critical innovations, consumers do tend to rate downstream industries (like tech, renewables, automotive, and building and construction) higher on sustainability than chemistry itself—despite the fact that chemistry products enable the higher sustainability performance of countless downstream industries and products. Why?

The answer: what we do through chemistry clearly matters—but also critically important is how we do it.

How We Do It: Operations and Manufacturing Processes

While the chemical industry is energy intensive, ACC members are taking action to reduce the industrial GHG intensity of their supply chains, operations and products and are deploying commercially available solutions to reduce emissions.

For example, I’m proud to say that, even as demand for chemistry products has increased, ACC members have reduced their GHG intensity by over 12% in the last four years.

Further reducing emissions will require accelerated investment in lower-emissions technologies, such as:

  • clean hydrogen;
  • carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS);
  • use of biomaterials and circular feedstocks; and
  • cracker electrification.

From being climate smart and energy smart, to creating a more diverse workforce; from conserving and protecting drinking water, to monitoring and improving air quality—the business of chemistry can do well by doing good.

It’s both the right thing to do—and good for the bottom line.

Leading with Chemistry

With trust eroding in many government institutions, and the ongoing polarization of media, the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer offers a sobering, albeit encouraging, account of the expectations that citizens now place on business to fill the void of steady, reliable societal leadership.

People, especially employees, are looking to their employers and the business community at large to help solve big challenges. They may feel like government and the media have failed them; it’s too bureaucratic and it’s too polarized, they say.

Whether you agree or not, the result is the same: We need more leadership from business, not less. And that’s what we are doing in the business of chemistry every single day.

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About the Author

As President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Chris is responsible for advancing ACC’s mission to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing.

Chris has been named by The Hill as one of Washington, DC’s “Top Lobbyists” and by the Washingtonian as one of DC’s “Most Influential People” for representing the U.S. business of chemistry and its customers within the halls of Congress.

Prior to joining ACC in 2019, Chris served as President and CEO of The Fertilizer Institute, president of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, and president of the Contract Services Association. He began his career on Capitol Hill, including time as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY).

Chris earned an MBA from the University of Maryland and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in New York.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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