“We begin to foresee a gradual improvement in economies, with a greater participation of our products, particularly in sectors such as automotive, construction and mass consumption.”

Manuel Díaz

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, APLA

September 06, 2023

What are the main goals of APLA’s Sustainability Meeting in Santiago?

This is our third sustainability meeting. This year, in Santiago de Chile, our expectation is to interact and delve into projects that have a key sustainable focus in their development and implementation. This meeting is directly linked to APLA's vision, which is to facilitate sustainable business development for the petrochemical and chemical industry in Latin America.

What are the key agenda points for the event?

Within a comprehensive agenda, we can highlight two major themes. On the one hand, we will discuss the regulatory frameworks currently in place and those that are being drafted both at the global level and at the UN, with specialist speakers from our sister associations such as ASIPLA and ASIQUIM.

On the other hand, we are going to present specific projects related to the recycling and reduction of certain industry products, such as the chemical recycling presented by YPF Química, and Methanex’s projects for the reduction of carbon emissions and the use of methanol as an alternative fuel. We will also hear from CCU about the impact of the recycling law in Chile and the company’s own sustainability plans, both in plastic recycling and in the use of alternative energies. Moreover, there will be a panel on green hydrogen where Unigel will show its initiatives in Brazil for alternative energy.

These are clearly very relevant issues that have a concrete impact on the Latin American industry. Furthermore, these topics respond to the specific interest expressed by those attending previous editions of the APLA Sustainability Meeting. This way the event can grow year after year.

What are the most pressing concerns faced by your members in 2023?

Without a doubt, the challenges lie in two key areas. First of all, we have the new regulations implemented in different countries, which have prompted industry players to implement measures to provide effective compliance. On the other hand, there is the social impact, an aspect that differentiates sustainability in our region from Europe or the United States. In Latin America, many people make a living out of waste separation and recycling. For this reason, the social aspect can never be ignored when putting together sustainability projects. Our challenge is to make the circular economy truly effective, including the cooperatives or groups that have managed to convert these processes into their livelihood, and provide them with a longer-term perspective.

How do you think Latin American chemical players can leverage opportunities opened by the energy transition?

We believe that our industry can take great advantage of these opportunities by continuing and strengthening investment projects that already exist in this field, such as the development of alternative energies and the optimization of industrial energy consumption.

What product segments present the most growth potential in the region?

Today we are seeing new opportunities opening up within our industry, which generally relies on imports. With the development of Vaca Muerta, we believe that there will be a mix of raw materials available, and that can be an opportunity for the development of other industries and for the reduction of trade deficits. In the Santiago meeting we will examine an interesting case: Profertil, which shows a sustainable business approach within food production through efforts to make land more productive.

What is your outlook for the petrochemical industry in the coming years?

Beyond the complex socioeconomic situation that presents its share of challenges and barriers to overcome, the outlook for the coming years is very positive. We begin to foresee a gradual improvement in economies, with a greater participation of our products, particularly in sectors such as automotive, construction and mass consumption.

Would you like to share a final message?

At APLA we have a strong commitment to promoting joint work between brand owners and the industry to seek the development of increasingly sustainable products, reduce the use of some components, and develop new ones that are even more environmentally friendly. This is a clear approach to sustainable innovation, which means that any product improvement, discovery or optimization must consider the full life cycle. We are not innovating if we do not think about the final destination of a product or material. As an industry we have a great opportunity to continue moving in this direction.

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