Switzerland-based internationally recognized supply chain expert Paul Gooch (also Founder and Managing Director of The Logical Group) shares his thoughts on the
historic challenges the chemical industry’s supply chain has faced in becoming greener and what’s enabling recent progress.
Shippeo: It seems that there is a call for "greener chemicals supply chains" gaining momentum. When did the shift towards sustainability in petrochemicals happen and what sparked it? Especially beyond the typical commercially driven search for better efficiency and more productivity.
Paul Gooch: The sustainability debate has been around for many years for the chemical industry. Over the past half-century, a series of major accidents involving the chemical industry (e.g. Flixborough 1974, Seveso 1976, Bhopal 1984) and marine incidents and accidents (e.g. Torrey Canyon 1967, Amoco Cadiz 1978, Piper Alpha 1988, Exxon Valdez 1989) had contributed to the chemical industry initiative ‘Responsible Care®’ which started in Canada in 1985 and was progressively adopted around the world. The chemical industry’s public image was ranked third worst behind the nuclear and tobacco industries and was constantly the target of Green Peace and WWF, so there was plenty of incentive for the industry to drive change. The Sustainability External Advisory Council (SEAC) was founded in 1992 by Frank Popoff (former Dow Chemical CEO and Chairman) and was the first of its kind in the petrochemical industry. In addition, there is a book on my shelf entitled ‘Driving Eco-Innovation – A breakthrough discipline for innovation and sustainability’. It was authored by a previous boss of mine at Dow (Claude Fussler) and was published in 1996…so the debate has been around for a while. But certainly, more recently public pressure has been mounting for the industry to tackle plastic waste and this has led to the creation of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste with all the major petrochemical companies participating.