[ID] => 10080
[post_author] => 288
[post_date] => 2018-09-13 08:58:17
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-13 07:58:17
[post_content] => The ludicrously overpriced capital of the French Riviera, Nice this year played host to the European Association of Chemical Distributors' (Fecc) 2018 Annual Congress. Staged this past June at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée, the event kicked off with a welcoming speech by Fecc president Neville Prior before moving on to a joint presentation by Jean Mazères and Gilles Richard. Respectively, the vice-president and general secretary of the Union Française du Commerce Chimique (UFCC), they told delegates that their organisation currently represents the interests of 66 French chemical distributors, five French chemical producers and eight associate members.
In 2017, they continued, the French chemical distribution sector had a total headcount of around 3,300 and saw its combined turnover rise 8 per cent on the previous year to reach a value of approximately €2.9bn. Of this, €0.6bn came from export sales, which accounted for 22 per cent of total turnover, up on the 17 per cent commanded in 2012. In total, they reported, the sector operates 35 Seveso sites across France, with 70 per cent of UFCC members fully signed up to Responsible Care (RC). Meanwhile, 71 members are ISO 9001/9002 certified and 21 ISO 14001 certified. Other certifications attained by UFCC members, they said, include inter alia
ISO 22000, ISO 26000, ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001.
Mazères and Richard then outlined the UFCC 2020 initiative. A new strategy voted in by members at the Association's 2017 General Assembly, UFCC 2020 seeks to address various "important changes in chemical distribution" and the need for UFCC "to allocate dedicated resources" to help companies succeed in key growth markets such as cosmetics. Thus, UFCC has decided to "increase [its] expertise in life sciences issues" by hiring a suitably qualified and experienced chemical engineer; ensure better communication by hiring a communications and marketing officer; recruit new members for "better representativeness"; and "facilitate and improve exchanges" between members and the UFCC committees.
Indeed, the number of UFCC committees and working groups will now be expanded to include a social committee that will focus on relations with trade unions and "social regulations"; a sustainable development committee; a products and applications committee; and a transport and logistics committee. Among other things, the UFCC 2020 initiative will also see the Association providing its members with enhanced regulatory analysis; undertaking collective advocacy at a national level; and offering companies legal consultations. Additionally, the Association will also develop specific tools for members, such as websites and documents, while offering training sessions on such matters as REACH, CLP, ADR, safety and the environment.
Gislene da Silva of the French Pôle Parfum, Aromes, Senteurs et Saveurs (PASS) then took to the podium, explaining to delegates that in 2005 the country's Interministerial Committee for Regional Development established a number of competitive clusters (pôles de compétitivité
). These, she revealed, are intended to bring together firms, research laboratories and training institutions within a specific territory in order to "support innovation through collaborative products or services".
While they are partially financed by the French government, these competitive clusters can also support their projects in a wide variety of areas by involving various partners, including the National Research Agency, Bpifrance and Caisse des Depots. In total, there are currently 70 such clusters around France focused on such fields as food, health, aeronautics, IT, electronics and energy. Centred on Grasse, traditionally the capital of the world's perfume industry, the PASS cluster represents 150 members covering four sectors: aromatics, cosmetics, food and "transversal services". These sectors, she reported, command annual turnovers of, respectively, €2.7bn, €3.2bn, €350m and €75m while simultaneously employing a total staff of around 12,600.
Among other things, PASS helps its members find specific partners with which to collaborate while developing tools, programmes and training sessions to help its members on both an economic and technological basis. This all falls under the clusters' general remit to manage collaborative projects; improve employment and skills; support the competitiveness of members; and minimise the environmental impact of players. Among other things, PASS, she revealed, has developed a Guide of Good Practices for the Eco Extraction of Plants while also developing a database concerning pesticide risks for essential oils.
Sticking with environmental matters, Liam McCarroll, Univar's sustainability coordinator, revealed that Univar has set itself six global goals for 2021 that focus on such "key areas of responsibility" as energy and emissions; resource use; responsible handling; safety; sustainable supply chains; and equality and diversity. "Our responsibilities are not news to any of us. However, sustainability does not end at our gates. With over 8,000 suppliers globally, our upstream stakeholders carry a greater potential to impact on our environment and society," he told delegates.
By working to improve the situation beyond its own business, Univar, he explained, seeks to reduce both supply chain disruptions and reputational risks while also identifying opportunities to innovate products and services. To engage players along the supply chain, the company has a number of tools at its disposal, including in-house supply chain assessment questionnaires; in-house supply chain auditing systems; a supplier code of conduct; third-party supply chain audits and assessments; and "synergistic relationships".
On the subject of risk-based supplier assessments, McCarroll explained that Univar has operated supplier assessments within Europe, the Middle East and Africa for some time now, expanding their scope in 2017 with a requirement to disclose further data on environmental and ethical matters. Every one of Univar's suppliers, he continued, is assessed and prioritised according to industry, risk-assessed geographic location, and acquired rights. At the same time, the company's supplier audits focus in on such issues as environmental management; commitment to (and any breaches of) anti-trust, anti-bribery and corruption laws; compliance with ethical labour standards; health and safety; and business continuity plans.
"As distributors, we must do the same for our customers. Just as we engage our suppliers to improve responsible business practice, our customers rightly expect the same from us," he said. To do this, Univar "continues to share [its] actions and performance" through regular sustainability reports, customer questionnaires and its work with such organisations and initiatives as EcoVadis and Sedex.
Looking to the future, McCarroll informed delegates that Univar anticipates ever greater transparency and accountability; an increasing focus on innovation and collaboration; "acting beyond compliance as the norm"; a continued growth in the use of technology; and more frequent reporting. To address this, he asserted, distributors need to be proactive while taking action on material issues, reporting transparently and avoiding 'greenwash'. "As distributors, our ability to achieve this success is based on three departments: internal sustainability; material supplier engagement; [and] broad stakeholder collaboration," he said, warning that "today's best practice will be tomorrow's standards".
Dorothee Arns, executive director of Petrochemicals Europe, an industry sector of the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), then told delegates that between 2016 and 2030 world chemical sales are expected to rise from €3.4tr to €6.3tr. However, the EU's slice of the pie looks set to drop over the period from 15.1 per cent to 12 per cent. In terms of current EU chemical sales, speciality chemicals, she revealed, account for 27.2 per cent; petrochemicals 25.9 per cent; polymers 21.6 per cent; consumer chemicals 13.6 per cent; and basic inorganics 11.7 per cent.
"Europe's chemical excellence is based on a variety of value chains which originate from its steam cracker base and which are closely interlinked," she said, explaining that there are currently some 20 companies that together operate more than 50 steam crackers within the 28 EU member states. Combined, these plants provide "homogenous geographic coverage" and direct employment for more than 300,000 people. Moreover, the sector contributes some €155bn to overall European GDP. An energy-intensive industry, more than 80 per cent of its production costs are related to oil and gas as feedstock and energy. Similarly, the sector is also capital-intensive, with a typical steam cracker costing more than €1.5bn to construct.
While "95 per cent of all manufactured goods are based on petrochemicals", the sector, she noted, is "highly exposed to international competition". And while the oil price drop has brought some welcome relief, numerous structural challenges remain in Europe. Moreover, while "the eco footprint of Europe's chemical industry has substantially improved" – between 1990 and 2014 the sector upped production by 80 per cent while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by a 60 per cent – numerous challenges and uncertainties still need to be addressed, including issues pertaining to the growing of bio-fuels in the context of competition from food.
RISING REGULATORY COST
At same time, the regulatory landscape is increasingly difficult, with Arns noting that the number of EU regulations in the field of health, safety and the environment alone rose from 940 in 2004 to 1,724 by 2012. "Regulatory costs in Europe are steadily rising," she said, pinpointing such "major milestones" as REACH (2007), CLP (2008), Seveso III (2012) and ETS Phase 3 (2013).
On top of this, there are also many question marks with regard to energy costs, the UK voting to leave the EU, and also US policy with regard to, among other things, trade and tariffs. At the same time, the sector is seeing a wide range of investments being made "everywhere outside Europe", including the "emergence of the North American gas-based and China coal-based chemical industry advantage". Summing up, Arns noted that while the EU petrochemical sector has many things going for it, such as a "large integrated domestic market with strong customer industry clusters", it nonetheless has to contend with many negatives, including low population growth leading to low demand for chemicals in general.
The second part of this report in next month's HCB will cover such topics as developing successful supply chain partnerships within the pharma sphere and the various digital trends affecting the European chemical distribution sector.
[post_title] => Fecc: The French connection
[post_status] => publish
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[post_name] => fecc-the-french-connection
[post_modified] => 2018-09-12 18:00:14
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-12 17:00:14
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