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Facts about the UK chemical industry

Our recent acquisition, HFL Consulting, have published a great blog post discussing some of the most interesting facts and figures about the UK chemical industry. You can view the original blog on HFL's website, or read on below.

The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest in the UK and plays an important role in our economy. We have collated some of the most recent and interesting facts and figures about the sector to provide a snapshot of information about how the sector has performed in recent years, as well as identifying key trends and issues that the chemical industry is currently facing.

The UK chemical industry is hugely valuable to UK economy
The UK chemical and pharmaceutical industry is the second largest in the UK, with only the food, beverages and tobacco processing sector above them [1], making the industry an integral part of UK manufacturing. In fact, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry adds “£18 billion of value to the UK economy every year, from a total annual turnover of £50 billion” [5].

The chemical industry is prevalent in the North
As reported by both CEFIC and the CIA, the North West of England is the leading chemical producer in the UK, followed by Scotland, the North East and the Yorkshire/Humber areas [1]. The North West of England chemical industry is worth £10 billion [2] and this huge value is supported by organisations such as Chemicals North West to focus on the “the interests and activities of the chemical-using industries” in this area [2]. However, London and the South East are growing in importance due to businesses locating their headquarters in the capital [4].

Trade is an essential part of the industry’s makeup and performance [4]
Notably, the chemical industry in the UK comprises some of the highest exporting and importing companies of any sector. The uncertainty of Brexit may have a damaging impact on the sector as how businesses in the UK will trade with those in the EU and beyond is subject to change – igniting debates around whether the UK will be able to strike its own trade deals with both the EU and the rest of the world or remain in a customs union with the EU.
31% of everything manufactured in the UK chemical industry is exported to other countries, as reported by Santander [4] – a figure to be considered when debating the future of trade for the UK.

Pressure applied for the industry to go green
As behaviours change and stricter regulations are implemented, the need for the chemical industry to go green continues to rise. The chemical industry is continually looking to decrease it’s impact on the environment through waste and emissions, instead turning to alternative processes and products that are kinder to our surroundings [4].

Santander have noted that the global market for green chemicals is on track to grow from $11 billion in 2015 to $100 billion by next year [4]. This substantial increase is reflective of the increased R&D efforts in the industry to create greener processes.

We have trained over 3,000 executives and senior managers to help them demonstrate competence in Process Safety Management, some of which is being delivered through flexible blended learning programmes that combine online study with workshops and classroom activities.

Sources

[1] https://www.chemlandscape.cefic.org/country/united-kingdom/
[2] https://www.cia.org.uk/chemicalsnorthwest/About-Us/
[3] https://www.cia.org.uk/About-us/Our-industry
[4] https://www.santandercb.co.uk/s3fsfactsheets/eef_santander_sector_bulletin_chemicals.pdf
[5] https://www.cia.org.uk/News/Details/Chemical-industry-set-for-post-Brexit-growth