In our daily lives, we encounter chemicals constantly. Shocked? Surprised? Curious? Here are some examples of chemicals we need to encounter in our daily lives. Water, H2O, a chemical that is the very essence of life itself. Just about any derivative of plastic that contains, stores, dispenses, seals, displays, and preserves the things we need, like food for instance. NaCl, sodium chloride, salt, is essential and we consume it all the time. Na2CO3, sodium carbonate, washing soda, is a compound used to clean our clothes. Rest assured that the toothpaste, floss and mouthwash used daily to achieve that clean, minty freshness involved chemicals. Or perhaps take mouthwash, spearmint, peppermint oil, and menthol. This list continues on
Chemical compounds are pervasive and are everywhere, and it's not a negative thing too. Who doesn't like CH3OOH, acetic acid, in lemons when mixed with water and the compounds that comprise sugar, which in turn makes what favorite summer refreshment? Lemonade. The very medicines that serve to mend, and keep us well are themselves chemical compounds.
In the next decade, our planet Earth will be closing in on having roughly 8 billion inhabitants and the basics - water, food, shelter will provide significant challenges in creating, maintaining, implementing and advancing the science critical to sustaining our world. Chemistry and the chemical industry will be at the core of meeting this sustainability challenge.
The Status of the Chemical Industry in America
So what is the status of the chemical industry in America? Do we maintain a competitive advantage? The short answer is the industry is strong and, yes, we are competitive.
In the oil and gas sectors, American innovation is actually a keen point of interest to some very notable competition in places like Africa, Russia and the Middle East. There are challenges to be sure, but this sector of American chemical manufacturing is very much on offense, getting stronger via innovation and economies of scale. Abundant domestic and surprisingly plentiful supplies of natural gas and the shale revolution are very worthy of note.
The byproducts of our country's ever increasing petroleum discoveries and production are serving to fuel growth in manufacturing of the domestically processed basic chemicals. Growth regions being the Gulf Coast, Ohio Valley, and the Southeastern regions of the United States. The expectations and projections are that by the year 2020, the American chemical industry will have outpaced the overall economy with massive sales eclipsing $1 trillion in concert with a more efficient and safe distribution network.
The American chemical industry's command of the core and advanced sciences is second to none, with innovative, motivated people behind all of the positive progress which is proving essential to keeping us all productive, healthy, and living longer.
Industries that manufacture a diverse myriad range of products such as cosmetics, adhesives, fertilizers, ink, paper, bio-diesel, batteries, paint, vitamins and bug spray, just to name a few, are both necessary and thriving in America. Can you even imagine a world that didn't have plastic? Take a moment just to ponder what your world would be like without it.
Comedian George Carlin had a bit where he joked that the planet can get rid of us humans now since we came up with the one thing the Earth couldn't produce on its own, plastic.
While it was very funny, it does make you think.
In America alone, in June 2017, nearly 7 billion pounds of major plastic resins were produced. 7 billion pounds in one month, which was an increase of nearly 6% compared to the same month in 2016! Stated simply, that sector of the American chemical industry is healthy and growing.
Industries that rely on domestic chemical know-how, include the housing, utilities and automotive industries. While there are economic challenges in these industries to be sure, there always are. The need will always be there for the basics and the innovations that come from the chemical industry to allow those related industries to maintain a competitive edge.
Spending and Investment in the American Chemical Industry
Spending and investment in the American chemical industry remains strong, with nearly 300 production projects in the last 7 years and billions of dollars invested domestically. Capital spending is on the rise and expected to continue to contribute to overall economic growth for years to come.
The very business of domestic chemistry is close to an $800 billion market accounting for 14 percent of all US exports and 15 percent of the world's chemicals. The estimate is that 96 percent of all manufactured goods couldn't be brought to market without products from the American chemical industry.
Alive and Well
Next time you wash your face, bathe, gargle, put on that dry cleaned garment, use your computer or smartphone, or even flipping the light switch before starting your car to go out into the world, be assured and rest easy that chemicals are working for you and the domestic chemical industry in the United States is alive, thriving and will be healthy well into the foreseeable future.