Environmental justice is not a new concept. The first calls for this were in the 1980s when protesters tried to block the construction of a landfill for toxic waste in Afton, North Carolina, US. That effort failed, but the ideals have spread to the halls of power. However, the adoption of environmental justice principles has done little to slow the progress of climate change, or to tackle the hazards (and opportunities) of sustainable innovation.
The combination of net zero needs and the Ukraine invasion has begun to drive exponential change in the chemicals manufacturing area. As in other industries – for example, the move from gasoline and diesel cars to electric vehicles – it will produce winners and losers.
In 2018, the UK government shared its 25 Year Plan, setting out the steps envisaged to tackle environmental issues, notably plastic waste. After several years and consultations, the plastic packaging tax (PPT) was developed to incentivise businesses to use recycled plastic in the manufacture of plastic packaging as opposed to virgin plastic. It came into effect in April 2022 and – as of 1 April 2023 – charged at a rate of £210.82/t, rising to £217.85/t from 1 April 2024.
Overall demand for biologics is expected reach 4.4m L by 2027, up from 2.5m L in 2022, with a growth rate of 11.5%/year and capacity increasing during the same time to 8.4m L, up from 6.55m L in 2023.