essenscia study: Belgians and chemicals, plastic and life sciences sector

Louvain-La-Neuve, Mons



The innovative products of the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry play an essential role in the ongoing transition towards a better and more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren and for our planet. The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is, and will be, the solution provider to reach most of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals the United Nations have put in place, and remains one of the driving forces behind the movement towards a circular economy. essenscia and the companies of the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry in Belgium are strongly committed to play their part in reaching these goals. Together with governments, social partners, NGOs and civil society, the sector is determined to make a large contribution to a better and more sustainable future.

As part of this collaboration, essenscia mandated Valérie Swaen (Professor, LSM) to carry out a survey to determine how the public perceives the contribution of the sector to sustainable development. A special focus on young people was requested as the ageing of the sector’s workforce coupled with its steady growth means there is a constant need for junior talents with a scientifi c or technical higher-level degree. Better understanding the perception of the young public will thus help the sector shape its activities to raise young people’s awareness of the importance of choosing to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects) and to promote the sector as an employer of choice. This report is based on an online survey carried out between April and June 2017 and gathered 963 responses coming from the 3 Belgian's regions.

Key takaways:

Belgians consider that the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector is a strictly regulated sector and an important economic pillar of the Belgian economy. In particular, they describe
the sector as a quality employer, which ensures quality jobs, pays its employees well and provides them with secure jobs.
Moreover, Belgians are aware of the sector investments to develop solutions to major global challenges, in particular those related to health issues. Even if, up to now, Belgians still consider the sector as more part of the environmental problems than of the solution, they acknowledge that the sector tries not only to reduce its negative impacts on the environment, but also to develop solutions to meet environmental challenges. The sector is perceived as highly innovative and oriented toward the future, but not transparent enough. Informing Belgians about the sector’s activities related to sustainability should be one of the top priority of the sector. Indeed, the more informed the public is the more positive its perceptions about the sector are. It is thus very important to reinforce the communication to the public about the strengths of the sector and its contribution to sustainable development, especially for a younger target, particularly interested in how companies take their impact on society into account.

For more information about this study and its result please read the following document.