THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY AND U.N. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 15: LIFE ON LAND
For Resinate’s 2019 blog series, we will focus on a particular U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and the chemical industry’s impact. If you are not familiar with the goals, Pyxera Global has an excellent infographic that provides a nice summary.
Eighty percent of the world’s land-based species live in forests.1 13.2 million people have a job in the forest sector, and another 41 million have a job related to the sector. Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet and are one of the largest carbon sinks, absorbing nearly 40% of the fossil-fuel emissions humans produce.2 Forested watershed and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s accessible freshwater.3 They provide us with shelter, livelihoods, food, water, fuel security, and purify our water and air– yet we still allow them to disappear. According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we are losing 18.7 million acres of forest annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute.1
For Forest Enterprise Scotland, chemicals play a key role in protecting forests. The organization uses chemicals to protect their young trees from weevils – which destroy 50% of untreated newly planted and or naturally regenerating trees on average. By thoughtfully selecting trees that are likely to have a major weevil threat and treating trees in a very targeted way, they are able to minimize environmental impact while protecting many of the £5 million worth of trees lost by the UK forestry industry each year.4
Products like tall oil, commonly used in the chemical industry are derived from pine trees. According to the Pine Chemicals Association, their industry has used selective pollination and genetic engineering to develop hybrid pine trees that grow 2-3 times faster and yield 2-4 times more oleoresin per tree. They have also developed new tapping methods to further improve yields. The industry has become quite sustainable thanks to these innovations which protect trees and improve forestry. Additional sustainability improvements include the replanting of harvested trees and embracing the concept of “cascading use of biomass resources.” This concept allows all parts of the tree to be used for the highest possible value, whether that be primary raw materials like crude tall oil, paper, or fuel.5
At Resinate, we are continuously evaluating our supply chain for sustainable sourcing of our feedstocks. In addition, one of our core focus areas is on developing high-performance polyols for wood coatings. After all, the better we can protect our wood surfaces, like wood flooring or a garden fence, the longer they will last, and the less raw material wood is consumed.
With innovation, sustainable chemistry will continue to enable more efficient use of our natural resources and play an essential role in creating solutions that protect our forests and all that depend on them.
1. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation 2. https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/articles/what-is-sustainable-forestry 3. https://www.americanforests.org/blog/international-day-of-forests-2016-the-importance-of-forests-and-water/ 4. https://forestryandland.gov.scot/blog/why-we-use-chemicals-to-protect-young-trees 5. https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.pinechemicals.org/resource/resmgr/Studies/PCA-_Global_Impact_of_the_Mo.pdf