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Position

Position

Chairman

Providing solutions to social problems in an effort to build a truly sustainable society

 

My name is Kohei Morikawa, Chairman of the Japan Chemical Industry Association since May 2020. I am honored to be leading the organization as we look to make important progress.

With split, conflict, climate change, food crises, and a host of other social issues already creating a cloud of uncertainty on a global scale, 2020 has seen new waves of confusion further complicate the situation as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its protracted spread and leaves the world economy exposed to the possibility of unprecedented devastation. I think, in many ways, these trying times have shown the world just how vital the chemical industry’s various products and technologies are in enabling healthy, comfortable, and convenient ways of life. For us to maintain our healthy growth in the long term and keep providing stable supplies of the products society depends on, we will need to focus on being safer and greener (more environmentally friendly) on three levels—the manufacturing process, during use (the products themselves), and post-use (recycling)—through efforts that earn the trust of the wider community.

 

1. Safer and greener during the manufacturing process

The existence of the chemical industry hinges on its efforts to ensure the safety of chemical manufacturing—keeping production facilities as safe and secure as possible—and continuing to minimize the environmental load of its manufacturing operations. These areas will remain key focal points moving forward.

To help ensure safety, we will continue to fortify frameworks for gleaning and sharing valuable lessons and best practices from accident information. We will also offer drive efforts like smart safety to help businesses cope with aging equipment, losses of experienced veterans in the workforce, and other conditions.

Our efforts to minimize the industry’s environmental burden, meanwhile, will involve promoting technical innovation to help cut greenhouse-gas emissions in business activities and formulating other components of plans to establish a low-carbon society. All of those initiatives will fall in line with efforts to reach new CO2-reduction targets for 2030 as part of the campaign against climate change—an issue that affects the entire globe.

 

2. Safer and greener during use: The products themselves

One of the keys to making chemical products themselves safer and greener is managing risk with an even stronger focus on communication with the supply chain, with chemical management at the center. Another important piece of the effort will be our continuing commitment to promoting responsible care through measures to improve occupational safety and health, enhance distribution safety, and dialogue with society.

The churning, rapid progress of globalization has brought a variety of new challenges to light—and addressing the issues requires global coordination. The Japanese chemical industry will thus work to forge stronger cross-border ties by taking an active role in international conferences, such as the ICCA, and engaging with industry groups abroad. We will continue to emphasize the effectiveness and social value of chemical products, underlining the chemical industry’s identity as a provider of solutions to social issues.

 

3. Safer and greener post-use: Recycling

he realization of a recycling-oriented society through closer attention to the safety and environmental friendless of chemical products after use requires concerted action across the entire social spectrum, encompassing a diverse range of stakeholders. To make an even stronger push toward meaningful improvements, we will work to bolster the activities of the Japan Initiative for Marine Environment (JaIME) and drive efforts forward.

Waste plastic is another issue that demands serious attention. There are three approaches to dealing with the problem: mechanical recycling, chemical recycling, and energy recovery. In the coming years, the growing importance of minimizing atmospheric CO2 emissions will create a stronger need to make effective use of waste plastic as a resource. Chemical recycling is important from a social perspective, too, as it enables the reuse of chemical materials without any degradation in quality levels. Getting to the point where chemical recycling is a practical solution, however, will involve clearing numerous technical and institutional hurdles. We want to be proactive in meeting those challenges and paving the way for chemical recycling, which we see as an important, crucial component for the creation of a circular economy. To make that happen and give the approach a broader reach, we will work to develop the requisite technologies and promote real-world applications.

 

The international community is coping with COVID-19, and progress toward a truly sustainable society is gaining momentum. The chemical industry, I believe, can and should play a key role in bringing that ideal to fruition.

Embracing the industry’s potential as both a source of pride and a call to action, I look forward to communicating the chemical industry’s social value, highlighting its capacity for innovation, and leading the Japan Chemical Industry Association forward. On behalf of the organization, I thank you for your support.

 

Japan Chemical Industry Association

Chairman Kohei Morikawa