Celebrating 100 years: the Chemical Business Association 

Fuel Oil News hears from Tim Doggett, CEO of the Chemical Business Association (CBA), as he reflects on the milestones, achievements, and successes of the past year and century and considers what the sector can expect in 2024.

Celebrating 100 years: the Chemical Business Association

The chemical supply chain has had its share of challenges and disruptions. However, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom. The CBA has been the voice of the chemical supply chain industry for a century. In fact, the association, which represents distributors, manufacturers, traders, and other companies throughout the chemical supply chain, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2023.

While much has changed since being established as the British Chemical and Dyestuffs Traders Association in 1923, two things have remained the same – the sector continues to face challenges, and its members remain the driving force behind everything the CBA does.

A century of support

On the back of a difficult few years, the CBA marked its centennial anniversary in several ways during 2023. In April, it celebrated this momentous milestone with its member companies, special guests, and dignitaries from around the world during its annual “Floggers” lunch, the largest event of its kind in the UK. On this special occasion, it even received a letter of best wishes from King Charles III.

Exactly one hundred years since it was first registered, on 23rd November 2023, the CBA also hosted a 100th Anniversary Celebration and Awards night to recognise its members and their achievements.

However, its centenary year was not just about celebrating the past, but also about envisioning the future and advancing the sector. Throughout the year, it introduced several new initiatives. One of its most notable successes was establishing its People and Skills Hub, a platform aimed at facilitating the exchange of knowledge, skills development, and career advancement to young people and organisations alike.

It also launched Generation STEAM, an initiative geared towards engaging more young talent with the industry and highlighting the diverse entryways and careers available throughout the chemical sector.

Both these initiatives were introduced to address the potential growing skills gap in the chemical supply chain and the wider chemical sector, which has been a key focus for the CBA in the past year. 

Additionally, the CBA expanded the reach of its Future Council, a group of young professionals from its member companies, which celebrated its first anniversary in 2023. To help young people enhance their understanding of the chemical supply chain and to showcase the diverse career opportunities within the sector, 2023 saw the Future Council, along with CBA staff and its members participating in many outreach programmes and events during the year – directly engaging with over 8000 school children, students and young people during 2023.

The past year also saw the reinforcement of key partnerships. In addition to extending its involvement with Generation Logistics, an industry-led campaign aimed at bringing industry together, shifting perceptions, and encouraging the next generation to seek opportunities in the logistics industry, the CBA has partnered with STEM Learning to create and develop a STEAM Ambassador programme with several already qualified in 2023, and ambitions to train another 100 during 2024.

Moreover, the association continued to engage with local and foreign government departments, such as the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), advisory groups and other stakeholders on matters of global importance, with members of the team participating in several trade missions and regularly attending events for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), INTERPOL, and the International Chemical Trade Association (ICTA) around the globe.

Due to these partnerships, and the value they offer, the CBA has forged a strong reputation, and is widely recognised for its expertise, support, and contribution to the industry in the UK and internationally.

Driving sustainability

As part of its many commitments to the sector, the CBA has been seeking innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. In line with this, another significant milestone celebrated during 2023 was the 30th anniversary of its Responsible Care (RC) programme. Established in 1993, it is now a global initiative which provides an ethical framework for the safe use and handling of chemical products and seeks to deliver continual improvements in health, safety, security, and environmental performance across the industry.

In 2023, the CBA used the programme’s 30th anniversary to refocus its commitment to sustainability in the chemical supply chain by publishing its vision for RC in the 21st century. This was complemented by its annual Responsible Care Awards, which recognise the achievements of member companies beyond basic compliance with the programme.

Looking ahead

The economic climate is a key concern for many businesses, and those within the chemical supply chain are no exception. The CBA believes that, amid the challenging market environment, transparency, innovation, and collaboration will be key drivers in 2024 to ensure the sector remains relevant, effective, and productive.

Going forward, the association will consistently build and improve on its existing foundations, remain actively involved in supply chain dynamics, and continue to explore new and innovative ways to support its members.

With a century under its belt, it is ready for the challenges of the next one hundred years.