Key findings from the BTO Roadshow


Following the publication of Brightsite Transition Outlook (BTO) 2023, Brightsite actively sought dialogue with various parties and during climate tables across the Netherlands. These conversations focused on identifying challenges around circularity of raw materials in the regions for the transition to sustainability. During the annual conference of Green Chemistry, New Economy on 7 November in Utrecht, Arnold Stokking shared key findings from these meetings.

BTO 2023, aimed at companies, research institutes, policymakers and support organisations, presents a quantitative and qualitative analysis for the transition to renewable raw materials within the chemical industry. BTO 2023 uses the fictitious CHEM-NL complex, symbolising the total Dutch production of ethylene and ammonia, to provide a detailed overview of alternative methods for oil and gas substitution. In addition, it highlights the conditions and challenges involved and includes a navigation tool showing how deployment of certain renewable resources contribute to climate neutrality in 2050. BTO 2023 thus serves as an important reference document for understanding the transition and provides a framework that supports decision-making for making processes more sustainable.

The discussion of BTO 2023 with the various regions aimed to paint a common picture around the feedstock transition for the chemical industry. This transition is still in its infancy compared to the energy transition, but is as much needed as it is urgent. Brightsite thus bridges the gap between the industry and policymakers to drive the transition from the government in the most effective way possible.

Brightsite representatives met with industry tables in the North Netherlands, the Port of Rotterdam, West Brabant, Zeeland and Limburg, among others. Consultations were also held with officials, knowledge institutes and several companies. Each interaction was designed to delve deeper into the implications of the transition to renewable raw materials for each region and promote collaborative efforts for sustainability. During the annual conference of Green Chemistry, New Economy, managing director Arnold Stokking of Brightsite presented the main findings to director general of Business and Innovation Erwin Nijsse of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate.

Key findings:

Recognition of the need for change

Without exception, stakeholders from different sectors recognise the need to move away from current fossil-based production and business practices. There is broad agreement that current industrial practices need to evolve to effectively address climate change. The industry is aware of the usefulness and necessity of the transformation.

Understanding the scale of the transition

Despite this consensus, many do not yet fully grasp the enormity and complexity of the transition to alternative raw materials. The transition to alternative feedstocks is a complex process with significant implications for the structure and supply chains of the industry

Economic feasibility and potential for renewable energy

The economic feasibility of this transition is not yet readily apparent, posing a challenge for policymakers and industry leaders. However, the potential for renewable energy and materials is undeniable, with promising initiatives showing the potential of a sustainable economic model. It is precisely these initiatives that need to be embraced first now

Need for supportive policies

For such a transition to succeed, a long-term supportive policy framework is essential. Industry representatives are calling for consistent regulation at both national and European levels, but are also keen to see guidance to navigate this new terrain. This support is crucial for companies to invest confidently in sustainable technologies.

Circularity as a condition

Circularity is no longer an option, but a precondition for the transition of raw materials. The 7R concept needs to be understood and quantified in relation to the volumes of different types of renewable raw materials to ensure an optimal, sustainable material cycle.

Need for further research

Stakeholders agree that several aspects of the transition to renewable raw materials require additional research and quantification. Elements such as land take, greenhouse gas and nitrogen emissions, water and land use, logistics movements and the need for new employees need to be thoroughly assessed in order to jointly drive the success of the transition.

Level playing field

The current arrangements for adding renewable raw materials to fuels make their use in materials production less attainable. There is a need for policies that provide a level playing field for all energy sources and raw materials. This should lead to raw materials also becoming available for deployment in materials and not being completely sucked out by the high demand for renewable fuels. Deployment in materials retains carbon longer and is therefore better for the environment.

Joint the conversation
BTO 2023 has laid a solid foundation for understanding the complexity and necessity of the transition to renewable resources. Engagement with various regional stakeholders underlines the importance of a collective and region-specific approach. We encourage you to participate in this ongoing dialogue, share your professional perspectives and contribute to the sustainable future of the industry.