A Perspective on Best Available Carbon (BAC) as Feedstock for the Chemical Industry

Posted in: biobased

The petrochemical industry is a significant global consumer of carbon and a notable producer of carbon emissions contributing to climate change. This report explores the potential for the industry to make a progressive move towards more sustainable carbon choices through the use of BAC.

Best Available Carbon for a More Sustainable Carbon Economy

Sustainability isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Therefore, the concept of sustainable carbon is not a concrete definition of what carbon source is the most sustainable, but rather a developing and constantly evolving view of what would be described as ‘Best Available Carbon’ (BAC).  BAC means the available carbon that could be used in manufacturing, which minimises GHG emissions and any other negative impacts on the environment, whilst also importantly maintaining the economic and technical viability of specific manufacturing processes. Although the focus is placed on CO2 emissions, the careful management of carbon is required to avoid undesirable and unintended knock-on consequences in other areas of planetary health, such as water availability, air and water pollution, toxicity and biodiversity. The idea of BAC sits within the established concept of ‘best available techniques’ (BAT), where advanced and proven techniques are used for the prevention and control of industrial emissions and wider environmental impacts caused by industrial installations. These available technologies have been developed to a scale that enables their implementation under economically and technically viable conditions. In a similar way, the concept of BAC should consider the economic and technical viability of the carbon sources required for specific manufacturing processes.

Through consideration of BAC there is the potential for the industry to make a progressive move towards more sustainable carbon choices.

Given that around 96% of all manufactured goods are currently reliant on chemicals, when chemical products inevitably become more sustainable in the future, there will be a huge multiplier effect, with downstream products benefiting considerably. The chemical industry could therefore be a hidden climate hero, as it has the potential to act as a key enabler for the defossilisation of many other industries.

To read the full report, please click here.

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This report was written by Dr Adrian Higson (Managing Director, NNFCC), Sophie Mason (Senior Consultant, NNFCC) and Dr Jen Vanderhoven (Director, FREY).

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