2024 Message of SusChem Chairman


Dear SusChem Members & Stakeholders!

Firstly, I would like to wish you, your families and partners a healthy New Year 2024! I hope you got off to a good start and have recharged your batteries over the last few days to start the new year full of energy. I want to take a moment to thank all of you for your commitment and the positive collaboration we have shared in 2023.

If what Soren Kierkegaard left us is correct – that life is lived forwards and understood backwards – then a review of the year is even more worthwhile. We illuminate the past in order to recognize the future.

SusChem’s activities last year revolved around the Green Deal work packages even more than in previous years. I would like to highlight the following work packages in particular: The efforts to give content and structure to the “Advanced Materials Initiative”, which evolved into the “IM4EU” (Innovative Materials for the EU) partnership proposal, the critical but constructive debate on “Safe and sustainable-by-design” framework of the EC (SSbD) and the co-design of the IRISS network, as well as the finalization of the Transition Pathway (TP) for the Chemical Industry document and its further co-implementation in several focus groups.

It was a rather lengthy and labor-intensive process to structure the content of the Advanced Materials Initiative in such a way that 9 value chains, so-called innovation markets, are reflected in it and the commonalities for promoting innovation are highlighted. Work is currently underway to harmonize the input from the AMI2030 initiative and the Graphene Flagship in order to arrive at a coordinated version for the strategic documents of the partnership proposal. IM4EU has been shortlisted as one of the few partnership proposals for the second half of Horizon Europe. A decision on the adoption of the proposal is expected in the first half of this year.  SusChem is involved both in the work of the core team and the supervisory board of the partnership proposal.

We further reflected assessed the criteria for SSbD proposed by EU COM. We saw critical overlap to the approach of the “REACh extension” activities and expressed our concerns that a too stringent catalogue of requirement on hazard data would inhibit the innovation process, seeing that any innovation process is characterized by an only gradually increasing availability of robust data throughout the stages of the innovation process. SSbD criteria must foster innovation rather than increase bureaucracy. We also had academia joining our chain of arguments and SusChem’s voice is heard. With our contribution to the IRISS network SusChem is embarking on multiple channels: On the one hand, our NTP network can support SMEs in the regions and countries in obtaining information about the SSbD framework and providing feedback on it. This is of fundamental importance for the implementation and thus the acceptance of the concept along the chemical and downstream value chains. On the other hand, the concept is being brought into the academic world in order to address the basic idea of SSbD as early as possible.

Further, even though the rework on REACh is currently on hold, we are absolutely sure that we will face a new initiative by EU COM after the election in 2024.

With the help of our SusChem members and stakeholders, we were able to play a key role in shaping the TP. We can justifiably claim to have co-written large parts of the plan and the summary. We succeeded in setting the timeline for the transformation within a manageable framework. For the work in 2024 we will have to focus on the appropriate KPIs to maintain a high competitiveness of the European Chemical Industry as well as its academic substructure.   

The fact that SusChem represents not only the large chemical industry, but also medium-sized chemical companies and, above all, the research and development institutes of the EU 27, means that SusChem’s voice carries a lot of weight at EU COM. SusChem is therefore gladly invited to participate in the EU COM programs. This will continue to shape our work in 2024 and I ask for intensive support whenever we turn to them with questions and support.  Together we know more than the individual and together we can shape the future of our chemical discipline with the bodies of the EU COM!

I would like to thank the Board members for confirming me as SusChem Chairman last year for an additional term.

And now I look forward shaping 2024 together with you!

Sincerely Yours

Josef R Wünsch