green industry

Sustainable Future

Sustainable practices represent a clear opportunity for many of CIA’s members. With securing clean growth as one of our core priorities, the CIA is proud to advocate on behalf of the chemical industry who are early adopters of sustainable practices.

 One of CIA’s top priorities is to contribute towards a more sustainable future. We began our formal work on sustainability nearly 20 years ago in 2004, publishing our first sustainability programme, based around guiding principles and key metrics. Our longer-standing and continued efforts on driving health, safety, security and environmental performance improvement – enshrined within our Responsible Care programme – provided us with the essential building blocks to give tangible meaning to sustainable development at the time and today that programme remains a powerful vehicle for delivering on our wider sustainability objectives.

We take care to regularly revise our sustainability vision and sustainability goals to ensure they align with environmental, geopolitical and technological advancements that affect the UK chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the global agenda for sustainable development. 

Sustainable Carbon People Responsibility

Click on each pillar to find out how members plan to achieve the UN SDG goals and sector facts. 


UK Chemical Industry progress, contributions and challenges

Below is a snapshot of the UK chemical industry, which outlines some of the progress, contributions and challenges that lie ahead. This information is drawn from a range of sources including the Office for National Statistics, surveys, the European Patent Office, the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory.

Sustainable Growth and Innovation

SDGs 8, 9

  • Productivity
  • Investment
  • Prosperity
  • UN SDGs
  • Digitalisation

CIA and our members work to meet society’s needs and provide further solutions to deliver growth in the UK.

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Sector facts

  • R&D expenditure: Annual investment of over £8b
  • GVA: Gross value added of £28.9b
  • Productivity: UK chemical output +5.3% in 2020 and +3.7% in 2021

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Low carbon, circular economy

SDGs 7, 8, 12, 13

  • Resource productivity
  • Alternative feedstocks
  • Step-change technologies
  • Green Finance
  • Digitalisation
  • Renewable Energy

CIA and our members fully support the UK government’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and a more circular economy.

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Sector facts

  • GHG emissions and energy efficiency: GHG fell by +30% between 2011 and 2021
  • Waste recovered: Plastic packaging recovery rate +75% between 2021 and 2021
  • Resource efficiency: Total waste recovered increased from 19% to 35%

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Responsibility and stewardship

SDGs 3, 8, 12, 14, 15

  • Continuous improvement
  • Safe use of products
  • Well-being of workforce
  • Modern slavery

CIA and our members are committed to improving health, safety and the environment.

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Sector facts

  • Lost time accident rate reduced by 77%
  • Emissions to air: Reduced emissions by an average of 35%
  • Hazardous waste: Hazardous waste produced reduced by 15%

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People and community

SDGs 4, 5, 8, 10, 17

  • Talent
  • Diversity
  • Engagement with external stakeholders

CIA and our members seek to better reflect the diversity of society throughout our workforce.

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People and community

  • The UK chemical industry directly employs 151,000 people

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Solutions for our Future

We have partnered with ITN Productions to produce ‘Solutions for our Future,’ a news and current affairs-style programme reporting on the importance of the chemical industry. Part 2 of the programme explores Sustainability and the future of the sector, from tackling plastic pollution to building the workforce of tomorrow.

Watch here >



Where to start on your sustainability journey

A simple guide on the UK chemical and pharmaceutical sector, focused on companies with limited resources. 

sustainability graph

Sustainability Reporting Disclosures

Guidance on sustainable finance and taxonomy-related reporting and disclosures. 

If you would like to find out more about our policy positions please visit our sustianability policy area. 

Policy >

Be part of it 

Members are invited to get involved with the Sustinability Strategy Group. 
For further information, or to express an interest in joining, please contact
Charis McInnes at 

What is the Sustainability Strategy Group? 

Find out more >


Chemical industry collaborations and initiatives

Developed by industry, for industry to respond to a range of challenges



CIA Responsible Care Programme

Programme including principles that drive continuous improvement in performance across Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE). Includes sitelevel principles, benchmarking, good relevant practice, verification, self-assessment, guidance, regional meetings of HSSE professionals and more. Implements the Global Responsible Care Charter and is a condition of CIA membership. 

Find out more>





Roundtable on Sustainable Palm (RSPO)

Not-for-profit that unites stakeholders from the 7 sectors of the palm oil industry to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

Find out more>




CIA Sustainability Programme

Managed by CIA’s Sustainability Steering Group, sets the sustainability vision for the UK chemical industry, reports metrics, produces case studies, horizon scans, addresses policy, runs conferences, etc.

Find out more >





Cefic Sustainability Programme

European Chemical Council approach to sustainability including the ChemistryCan initiative.

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Related policy areas