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Jim Becker discusses Chevron Phillips Chemical’s sustainability initiatives with BIC Magazine

Jim Becker, vice president, polymers and sustainability at Chevron Phillips Chemical, manages the company's sustainability program in addition to its polymers business, so his mission is not only to ensure the responsible manufacture of company products amid rising global demand, but also to identify proactive, sustainable solutions to various global issues. That includes collaborating with select industry groups, customers and the public sector.
"Chevron Phillips Chemical is in growth mode, and with that comes an opportunity to advance our culture of environmental stewardship," Becker said. "That is why we recently intensified our focus on sustainable growth in our corporate strategy. We also developed a new company trademark, Performance by design. Caring by choice.TM. This is something we believe represents our longstanding tradition of caring about safety, the environment and the communities in which we operate."
As part of its main sustainability initiatives, Chevron Phillips Chemical is among the founding members of a new, unprecedented consortium of nearly 30 top global companies, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.
"This is the first time companies across the value chain have come together in such a significant way to attack this concern," Becker said. "Following our launch in mid-January, our global group has already pledged more than $1 billion with a goal of investing $1.5 billion over five years to eliminate plastic waste in the environment and especially the oceans. In the months ahead, the alliance will make investments and drive progress to reduce plastic waste, as well as encourage reuse and recycling."
Becker has worked in a variety of positions for Chevron Phillips Chemical, and he believes his assignments have afforded him a comprehensive understanding of the global issues surrounding plastics in the environment and how the industry can help solve the problem.
"I am part of an industry of problem solvers," Becker stated. "We recognize poorly managed plastic waste is a global issue and solving it will require global solutions. There is no simple, single solution. It will require a lot of hard work, and our company and its joint ventures are actively involved in finding viable solutions to address this environmental issue."
In addition to its work with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, Chevron Phillips Chemical recently furthered investments in recycling technologies through its America Styrenics joint venture with Agylix. With the ability to turn polystyrene products back into usable building blocks (styrene monomer), the venture is designed to keep waste out of the environment and create a circular solution with industry value.
"What's really energizing for me is the level of innovation in our industry, fueled by booming global demand for plastic products and record growth in U.S. shale," Becker said. "Such unprecedented, favorable market conditions have created a manufacturing renaissance across the country. And to meet the levels of growing demand sustained by this record market momentum, it will be even more important to focus on advances in mechanical and chemical recycling. The potential for rapid progress in this area is one of many reasons why it is such an exciting time to be in petrochemicals.
"When it comes to innovation and environmental sustainability in particular, the level of leadership our company and the industry are providing can bring lasting change in North America and globally. We are looking at exciting new ways to create a truly circular industry. We strongly believe plastics are an important part of a sustainable future."
Plastics provide tremendous value to society, from lifesaving medical applications to packaging that helps keep food fresh longer. They also use less material than alternatives and offer dramatic reductions in energy use, material consumption and greenhouse emissions.
"But they can't end up in unintended places in our environment, including our oceans," Becker said. "We want our products used and disposed of properly and look forward to the many contributions we can make to bolster sustainability efforts here in the United States and overseas."
This article first appeared in BIC Magazine.