The GPCA or Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association held its 2nd sustainability conference in Dubai with the theme ‘People, Planet, Profit’ from October 21st through October 23rd. Between this event and the increased sustainability reports from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), it is has become clear that sustainability and green technology are important issues in the petrochemical industry.
The Saudi Arabian government is following a plan that will help diversify its economy. In this plan, the petrochemical industry generates a significant amount of income. The GPCA released a report in 2013 that showed the Saudi Arabian petrochemical industry made up 56% of the GCC’s work force with a total employment of 83,700 people. It is estimated that this industry created 335,000 direct jobs in Saudi Arabia. The Gulf chemical industry is also looking at the bigger picture – the population of the world is increasing which places even greater importance on sustainability.
The drive to create jobs in the industry, along with creating green technology, has become a noteworthy trend inside the Gulf petrochemical industry. Ojas Wadivkar presented the GPCA’s first sustainability report which was co-authored by AT Kearney. AT Kearney’s principal at the GPCA conference told Xinhua that the time for ignoring the importance of sustainability within the GCC is over.
In the GCC, the petrochemical industry is the 2nd largest manufacturer with US$102 billion generated every year. Wadivka’s report found that 11 Gulf petrochemical companies created sustainability reports in 2014 compared to only 2 in 2009. In 2015, Wadivkar expects that 15 companies will publish sustainability reports.
The increase in sustainability reports have led Sabic’s general manager of environmental affairs Dr. Ahmed Al-Hazmi to believe that this sector has embraced sustainability and environmentally-conscious practices. The reason for this, according to Dr. Al-Hazmi, is that green technology has a positive effect on the economy of the GCC.
Green technology and practices also create social and environmental harmony. Al-Hazmi says that the use of green and sustainable technologies has not increased expenses for Sabic, the largest petrochemical producer in the world. Al-Hazmi says that Sabic will only use green technology that increases revenues and/or reduces costs otherwise those technologies are not sustainable.
According to one report, about 81% of GCC petrochemical company executives hope to reduce their costs with new environmental measures. On top of this, 71% said they believe investing in sustainable practices improves their risk management. At the same time, only 48% of these executives believe they can use sustainability to set their company apart from competitors.
Secretary General of the GPCA, Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, said that investing in green technology can give women more employment opportunities in the chemical and petrochemical industry. The average female employment rate in this industry is between 8% and 10% but environmental studies held at GCC universities are popular with female students.
Another report was published which stated that environmentally-conscious measures used at petrochemical companies have reduced injuries and accidents by about 50% since 2010. It is clear that sustainability and green technology are here to stay with Gulf petrochemical companies.