Environmental Protection: Don’t Call Them Strange Bedfellows

March 24, 2021
Chemical makers and environmental groups working together is a natural pairing

Habitat protection doesn’t necessarily come to the public’s mind when thinking about the priorities of chemical companies. Indeed, many people probably scoff at the idea — and for good reason. Chemical makers’ actions certainly have harmed habitats; Rachel Carson raised the alarm nearly sixty years ago (see: “A Milestone Book Turns 50”) and, unfortunately, some production sites still cause significant damage. However, responsible manufacturers now do pay quite a bit of attention to proper stewardship of natural resources.

For instance, protection of the environment, including natural habitats, makes up a key element of the chemical industry’s “Responsible Care” initiative. That voluntary program started in Canada in 1984 and now operates under the aegis of the American Chemistry Council, Washington, D.C., and similar groups in 67 other countries that form the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA); corporate members of those organizations represent 90% of global chemical sales, says ICCA. For more on Responsible Care, see: and

The idea that environmental groups would work with chemical makers to achieve progress may seem far-fetched to those dismissive of such groups as composed of “tree huggers” who only want to point fingers, demand more regulations or push impractical remedies. However, most such organizations aim not just to hold accountable those responsible for damage to the environment but also to foster habitat preservation and recovery. Indeed, these groups often have expertise and specialists who can help companies identify and implement practical ways to address or even avoid harm.

As this issue’s cover story (“Bridge Building Boosts Habitats”) points out, some leading chemical makers are closely collaborating with environmental groups to bolster natural habitats. For instance, Dow Chemical, Midland, Mich., has now partnered with The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Va., for a decade to improve the environment around the company’s sites.


Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Cambridge, U.K., which terms itself one of the world’s oldest wildlife conservation organizations, has been working even longer — for more than two decades — with BP, London. In September, BP announced a five-year collaboration with FFI that will extend that relationship.

Pippa Howard of FFI explains: “We’ll be helping the company to achieve its net positive impact (NPI) aim as outlined in its new biodiversity position.

“NPI is important because it means BP wants to do more than just mitigate its environmental impact and, instead, enhance biodiversity in the areas where it operates new projects.

“So, we’re going to help in two ways. In the first instance, we’ll share the technical expertise we’ve developed over the past decade to help BP build and pilot a new NPI methodology within its projects.

“But we can’t deliver NPI without using mechanisms called nature-based solutions, so the other strand of our work will be to identify ways in which to collaborate on those, too. FFI has a lot of experience designing and implementing projects out in the field to conserve biodiversity, capture carbon whilst working with people and local communities to generate sustainable livelihoods.”

More chemical makers should strive to forge such win-win collaborations.

MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can email him at [email protected]
About the Author

Mark Rosenzweig | Former Editor-in-Chief

Mark Rosenzweig is Chemical Processing's former editor-in-chief. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' magazine Chemical Engineering Progress. Before that, he held a variety of roles, including European editor and managing editor, at Chemical Engineering. He has received a prestigious Neal award from American Business Media. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union. His collection of typewriters now exceeds 100, and he has driven a 1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk for more than 40 years.