No alternative to transformation: Katja Wodjereck’s vision for a sustainable chemical industry

Katja Wodjereck, recently appointed as the Chair of Cefic’s Sustainability Forum, steps into her role during a pivotal period for the chemical industry. Facing significant challenges like escalating energy costs, inflation, and supply chain disruptions, the industry is on the verge of accelerating its sustainable transformation. In her recent discussion with the Cefic team, Wodjereck shared her vision to achieve this “centenary task.”

“We all know that there is no alternative to the sustainable transformation of our industry. At the same time, there is no alternative to preserving our competitiveness because a loss-making industry is anything but sustainable,” she stated.

Wodjereck is determined to steer the industry through these challenging times. “It will be on us to contribute to paving the way for the transformation of the industry. While this still means advancing circularity and renewables, it also means defining realistic pathways to sustainability in times of crisis,” she highlights, underscoring the importance of balancing environmental initiatives with economic viability.

Facing regulatory challenges, Wodjereck maintains that policies should support the industry’s sustainable transition whilst being mindful of the current economic climate.

“Regulation should provide us with momentum towards sustainability and out of the crisis, not create additional obstacles,” she advises, emphasising the need for supportive and  realistic policy frameworks.

Identifying significant opportunities amidst these transformations, Wodjereck points out that sustainable chemicals can drive sustainability across various industries, thereby strengthening the chemical industry’s position in value chains and laying the groundwork for robust business cases.

“There is a chance that the transformation allows us to get out of this stronger than before,” she declares, highlighting the potential for growth and resilience.

Addressing the multifaceted nature of sustainability, Wodjereck calls for a comprehensive approach that includes developing new technologies, ensuring the availability of sustainable materials, and addressing the financial aspects of transformation. Expanding sustainability efforts beyond carbon footprints and climate change to include broader environmental and social considerations like nature conservation, biodiversity, and human rights is crucial.

Cooperation, according to Wodjereck, is key to achieving this transformation. “No one can combat climate change, advance circularity, and safeguard the environment, biodiversity, and water on their own,” she states. She believes that transitioning from linear to circular value chains requires a collective effort, where the strength of the chain is as strong as its weakest link.

For Wodjereck, the path forward is clear: “It will be on us to seize this chance.”

With Wodjereck leading the way, Cefic and its Sustainability Forum are prepared to seize this opportunity and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable transformation.