Green chemistry, new economy

Accelerating sustainability in the chemical industry

The Economic Network of South Netherlands (ENZuid) consists of the provinces of Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg and eight triple helix organisations. They are working together to strengthen the regional economy. Meanwhile, the three industrial clusters of Geleen, Moerdijk and Terneuzen form the heart of the European chemical industry. They are responsible for over 20% of the Netherlands’ total CO2 emissions. In order to achieve the Dutch national climate goals for 2030 and 2050, investments must be accelerated in large-scale application of renewable feedstock, recycling and electrification of processes in the chemical industry. Bax & Company was asked by ENZuid to develop a strategy and implementation programme for this.

We’ve been working on the strategic plan for the supply chain transition in the chemical industry and below you will find an overview of our process.

STEP 1. Strategy and approach

As a starting point, we decided to link the large chemical companies with innovative scale-ups and SMEs in the region. They hold the solutions for collection, separation and processing of plastic waste, biomass and other residual flows. Together, they are able to develop the equipment required to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy and to generate new business by scaling up innovations.

We prepared some communication materials (some of which you can find here, as well as an English summary) and reached out to both local and regional authorities, as well as the large chemical companies, and a number of scale-up companies and networks. Soon, we had enough organisations onboard to start defining how to implement the programme.

STEP 2. Focus on specific projects

TNO got involved in this second phase, contributing substantive knowledge and expertise in the field of circularity and electrification in the chemical industry. After eight weeks of intensive collaboration, we developed an implementation programme and nine project proposals for scaling innovations. Six online workshops have been organised and supervised, each lasting two hours, with approximately 20 participants from the industry (corporates and SMEs), government (regional and national), interest groups, regional development agencies and financiers.

During the discussions, opportunities and bottlenecks were identified and discussed, after which the potential collaborative projects were elaborated into nine draft project proposals. These promising upscaling projects can substantially contribute to both the national and European CO2 reduction targets. With years of experience in developing complex cooperation projects on a European scale, we handled the project proposal development.

STEP 3. Sharing the results

On the 24th of June, we organised one more webinar, ‘Green chemistry, new economy’. In four dialogues with a total of fifteen experts from business, politics and finance, we assessed and discussed the goals and framework of our strategy. The proposed plan for an implementation programme and the first nine project proposals were then handed over to Focco Vijselaar, the Director-General of Business and Innovation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate and Diederik Samsom from the European Green Deal.

sustainability in chemical industry

The complexity of this subject and the relatively short timeframe posed several challenges for us:

  1. writing clear and concise argumentations about a large-scale challenge;
  2. involving all stakeholders in the development of the vision and strategy;
  3. identifying and elaborating on promising projects for upscaling;
  4. cooperating with a large knowledge institution as a small consultancy firm;
  5. organising online workshops and collaborating online with approximately 15 teammates;
  6. meeting tight deadlines and ensuring high-quality results within a short timeframe.

By providing templates, responding flexibly to developments, continuously working on clear formulations of opportunities and bottlenecks, repeated coordination with clients and teammates and the input of a large portion of enthusiasm, we were able to deliver promising results and continue to #AccelerateInnovation.


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