CIRS’ Global Chemical Regulation Conference, held on October 5, gathered delegates from 21 countries, representing a wide spectrum of the chemical industry. With support from five sponsors, nine industry associations, the Irish embassy in London, and the Department of Business and Trade (DBT), this conference marked a significant milestone for the CIRS Group, being our largest European conference to date.

The packed agenda brought together industry experts and our global team, delivering nine comprehensive presentations covering the latest regulatory updates and challenges in the chemical industry, spanning regions such as Europe, the UK, South Korea, and China.

Noteworthy presentations included Marko Susnik’s in-depth overview of current focal points and emerging trends in EU chemical policy. Marko is the senior advisor at the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) and an advisor to the secretary-general on chemicals policy, SMEunited. His presentation touched on vital aspects such as the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the REACH revision, and the safe and sustainable by design framework. He highlighted the rapid evolution of policies and legislation, emphasizing the growing complexity and associated costs in chemical management. He also pointed out areas where bottlenecks are already evident or poised to become critical challenges, including resource constraints within authorities, testing laboratory capacity, and enforcement mechanisms.

Sebastien Chaigneau, EHS Director at the BMI Group, showcased the Group’s dedication to sustainability and its positive impact through the 3Ps: planet, people, and profit. He emphasized the integration of sustainability into their business operations, citing initiatives such as assessing

greenhouse gas emissions upstream and downstream from the Group. Sebastien discussed their commitment to transitioning from reactive to predictive strategies in health, safety, and environment (HSE) management, and their mission to create products that promote goodness and encourage circular practices, particularly focusing on solar power, cleaner air initiatives, and sustainable concrete tiles.

Alastair Gardner, trade specialist (chemical) from the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), provided an overview of global export and trade opportunities for UK companies. He summarized the work of the DBT’s chemicals team in assessing new export markets for the chemical industry and shared how the DBT helps businesses overcome export barriers by offering services such as free advice, webinars, online learning tools, access to trade shows, international research, and funding opportunities.

Ian Cranshaw, head of international trade and regions at the Chemical Industries Association (CIA), presented an overview of the challenges facing UK chemical companies. He highlighted that CIA member companies anticipate energy costs, skills shortages, and increases in labor costs and raw material prices as key challenges in the coming year. Ian provided detailed background and figures to illustrate these issues.

The conference also included two dynamic panel discussions, one focusing on the sustainable development of the chemical industry in which speakers discussed SMEs’ role in consumer education, concerns about REACH chemical bans, Asia’s regulatory gap, and understanding consumer interests in sustainability.

The second panel explored supply chain challenges for the global chemical industry where speakers discussed inaccuracies in forms causing delays, regulatory barriers, intellectual property concerns, global trade management, and digitalization challenges.

The insightful presentations equipped attendees with a deeper understanding of the diverse regulations and issues encountered in different regions, with ample opportunities for questions and discussions during breaks and at the end of each session.

Feedback from conference delegates has been overwhelmingly positive. After a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we eagerly anticipate making these conferences an annual event once more, uniting professionals from the chemical industry to exchange insights and best practices.