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October 2018

ICIS - European Petrochemicals 2018

Europe’s petrochemical producers attending the 52nd EPCA Annual Meeting in Vienna, Austria, on 7-10 October have a busy agenda, both at the meeting itself and in the course of their daily business.
Grappling with the benefits and challenges offered up by circular economy and digitalisation; reducing supply chain risk; and arguing against growing imposition of trade tariffs are all on the “to do” list, over and above the business-as-usual items such as feedstocks, energy and competitiveness. Factor in participation in today’s lively merger and acquisition activity and industry executives certainly have their hands full.
The EPCA meeting has as its theme “Petrochemicals and the low carbon economy: versatile solutions for greater sustainability”, which covers the industry agenda pretty well.

Delegates will be able to pick up the latest ideas on petrochemicals’ contribution to energy efficiency and creative design in the urban environment; talent and diversity and their role in how to be a sustainable, innovative and attractive employer; and innovative concepts for a more sustainable supply chain.
Given the efforts and investments all the above will demand, it is fortunate the European chemical industry, and the EU economy, are performing well at present. Last year was certainly a strong one and leading producers are investing in Europe again, having secured feedstocks and seen demand and prices pick up. This year has perhaps not started quite so strongly for polyolefins and petrochemicals in general, as ICIS and Cefic make clear in the following pages, but there is still growth out there to be won. Digitalisation has the potential to improve the way companies perform in the longer term, and addressing the EU’s targets for plastics recycling as part of its circular economy drive can also pay dividends, if the industry and its value chain partners get to grips with product design, waste collection, reuse and recycling. There is a lot to play for at the moment, but also plenty of rewards on offer.

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