Chlor-alkali Industry Review 2018-2019
30 YEARS OF EURO CHLOR
FROM JUST SALT, WATER AND ELECTRICITY
Having just experienced eight exciting years at Euro Chlor, I tend to forget that we were originally set up as the “Bureau International du Chlore”, assembling the chlorine producers of the Benelux, France, Germany, Italy and the UK. We are talking about the 1950s, just 60 years after industrial production of chlor-alkali began.
It is reassuring to note that safety has always been the key topic for our organisation, even long before we expanded into the current EU-wide ‘Euro Chlor’ in 1989. This was the era when environmental groups attacked our industry for producing ‘the Devil’s element’, chlorine. I am so grateful that my predecessors were able to assist the membership in restoring the rightful positive reputation that chlorine chemistry deserves. We can now easily highlight the benefits of chlor-alkali through our ‘chlorine things’ and ’17 Successes’ programmes.
I strongly believe that the key to Euro Chlor’s success has been two-fold. In the first instance, it lies in our original goal to provide balanced, science-based information, developed by active members and a skilled Secretariat. Secondly, the membership is brave enough to work pro-actively and with great ambition. For example, in 2001 Euro Chlor launched its first 10-year sustainability programme with challenging, but realistic goals and a commitment to measuring data on health, safety and environment, production levels and product applications, as well as a voluntary commitment to phase out mercury.
This was complemented by the publication of the chlor-alkali industry Ecoprofile and concrete sustainability targets in 2004 – a first for Europe’s chemical industries. The second 10-year sustainability programme (2011- 2020) followed smoothly thereafter. On many occasions, Euro Chlor was praised by authorities for being a transparent and trusted partner.
With all the above as my inheritance, I am honoured to take the lead of the Euro Chlor Secretariat and enthusiastically take up the challenge to keep standards high.
Following the chlor-alkali industry with a chemist’s eye, I remain fascinated that all of this is possible from just salt, water and electricity!
Marleen Pauwels, Executive Director
AND THE NEXT 30 YEARS?
WE LOOK FORWARD WITH OPTIMISM FOR OUR INDUSTRY
In addition to being an essential building block for numerous products that we rely on every day, chlor-alkali products can play a key role in Europe’s more sustainable future. For example, our chemistry can contribute to building lightweight, safe and efficient cars and renewable energy technologies. It can treat waste water for re-use in water-deprived areas, create new medicines to fight cancer and help us improve energy efficiency in our homes. These and countless other innovations are anticipated in the next three decades, with chlor-alkali contributing to many of the United Nation’s global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For European chlor-alkali to provide raw materials for these solutions, we need a responsible but competitive sector. To achieve this, Euro Chlor plans to deliver its third sustainability programme in 2021 and further improve safety performance via its safety initiative.
We will investigate how to add value to hydrogen streams, contribute to a ‘carbon-neutral’ future and advocate for a level playing field for energy, as well as how we can play a role in the circular economy. More than ever, we will engage in educating and communicating transparently with objective technical and scientific data and continue to highlight the benefits of our industry – building on our recent 17 Successes programme – to encourage people to work in our sector.
Inspired by the Cefic Mid-Century Vision, we will crystallise this in our own strategy to define what our industry should look like in the coming years, and the concrete steps needed to get there. This will strengthen our commitment to creating a better world.
Our industry has a promising future. I am confident that we can work together, as we have in the past, to get there, continuing to support a safe, sustainable and successful chlor-alkali industry for Europe.
Jürgen Baune, Chairman of the Management Committee