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Synthetic Resins and Intermediates in the Circular Economy Post COVID-19: A SWOT Analysis

Synthetic Resins and Intermediates in the Circular Economy Post COVID-19: A SWOT Analysis

COVID-19 has changed everything. We don’t work, play, or study like we used to, and the destruction that has followed in its wake will require a new and flexible response from all sides. As we struggle to find a way out of the difficulties created by the pandemic, some analysts see this change as an opportunity to breathe life into the now-familiar idea of the Circular Economy, to see how this approach might boost economies in general and the chemical industry in particular.

The Executive Vice President of the European Commission’s Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, has said, "Investing in this new infrastructure is not a cost; it is an investment, a way to increase profit for industry and reduce spending for individuals."

The Commercialization Update on Biobased Building Blocks, released by ResourceWise and Nova Institute earlier this quarter, stressed the importance of investing in climate-resilient infrastructure and a lower-carbon future to drive significant near-term job creation while increasing economic and environmental resilience.

The economic outlook has become increasingly pessimistic as time passes, with a second wave of the virus already a reality in some localities, even as social and economic life opens up worldwide. On 10 June, the OECD said that a second wave was as likely as a steady recovery during what remains in 2020. The agency reported that Europe would be the hardest hit with a devastating fall of 11.5% in GDP if there is a second wave of COVID-19 and a drop of over 9% even without this second wave. The US has a slightly better scenario of 8.5% and 7.3%, and China and India have the best outcome of the major economies with drops of 2.6% and 3.7%, the best- and worst-case scenarios for China and 3.7% and 7.3% for India.

For the chemical intermediates and synthetic fibers markets, the loss of demand in the automotive industry has been the biggest hit. In BASF’s Shareholder Meeting on 18 June 2020, CEO Martin Brudermuller said, "Strong demand in other sectors will not make up for losses in the automotive industry; we will see improvements this year, but not complete recovery." Major chemical companies are looking at how to be responsive and flexible in the face of enormous changes in the industry and beyond.

In SWOT analyses of chemical intermediates and synthetic resin markets, we look at how petrochemical markets can identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We consider how those in these industries can ensure that we are partners and leaders in the change to a more sustainable economy.