“Can the Chemical Business Survive in the Future?”
On May 20, Na Kyung-soo, CEO of SK Global Chemical, a subsidiary of SK Innovation asked the question, giving food for thought to members of the company at its Communication Day (Comm. Day). Members of the company attended the live stream meeting online to practice social distancing due to COVID-19.
CEO Na Kyung-soo began the virtual communication with the members of the company by saying, “COVID-19 affirmed that no matter how good business or a system is, it can be collapsed in an instant.” He added, “Particularly, the chemical business which faces environment issues including plastic waste will not be able to survive unless it is transformed into a completely different business, unlike what we have been knowing.”
▲ (Left) SKGC members participate in Comm. Day online / (Right) CEO of SKGC Na Kyung-soo presents the Green Strategy at the Comm. Day on May 20.
| The chemical business can’t survive if it doesn’t become essential business indispensable to both the humankind and the environment
The CEO said, “As COVID-19 has brought the global economy to a halt for the past few months, the humankind witnessed that air pollution that had plagued us was somewhat reduced.” He continued, “In the meantime, the outbreak of the virus also shed new light on the need for plastic as we found we needed sterilized packaging materials for the sake of safety and health, and chemical materials for disposable medical devices, and ready-made meals and sanitary supplies became more necessary because of the spread of ‘Untact’ consumption culture.”
“These examples present both challenges and opportunities for the chemical business. Unless the chemical business strengthens beneficial functions of plastic that help improve quality of life while building a virtuous cycle that ensures plastic waste is completely recycled as a resource, the business has no place on earth.”
CEO Na also explained, “The only way for SK Global Chemical to continue to grow in the future will be to implement ‘deep change based on green business practices.” He added, “The strategy for the green business practice is centered around ‘Green for Better Life’ that is about integrating the beneficial functions of the chemical business into ‘green’ to go eco-friendly and provide values helping enhance quality of life for the humankind.”
To practice ‘Deep Change based on green business’, SK Global Chemical decided to preemptively respond to environmental issues and develop green portfolio and suggested major projects to that end as follows; increasing high-performance green products, expanding its definition of customers and pursuing of both economic values and social values by establishing an eco-friendly plastic ecosystem, and enhancing corporate capabilities in the technology-based recycling business of plastic waste.
First of all, the company decided to increase the share of its green products to more than 70% by 2025. Currently, it is 20% of its all products. For the increase, SK Global Chemical plans to expand its portfolio to include high-performance materials helping reduce plastic use, single packaging materials making it easy to recycle and light materials for automobiles that are excellent at improving fuel economy and reducing emission.
Believing that green transformation of chemical products should be consistent in the value chain whose all actors need to be engaged in the effort, the company defines its secondary and tertiary customers as well as collectors and recyclers of plastic waste, the government, and the academia as its extended customer base and will further cooperate with them.
As follow-up measures, SK Global Chemical will establish online/offline communities and hold a green forum which will serve as a platform of creating both economic and social values by building an eco-friendly plastic ecosystem and developing materials necessary for its customers.
The company’s plan also includes ideas of virtuous cycle of plastic waste as a resource such as advanced ‘thermal decomposition’ that enables plastic waste to be used as raw materials of chemical products and development of biodegradable resins that don’t require recycling as they decompose naturally in the environment.