Facts about the UK chemical industry

Post Date
05 May 2022
Read Time
2 minutes

The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest in the UK and plays an important role in our economy. We have collated some of the most recent and interesting facts and figures about the sector to provide a snapshot of information about how the sector has performed in recent years, as well as identifying key trends and issues that the chemical industry is currently facing.

The UK chemical industry is hugely valuable to UK economy
The UK chemical and pharmaceutical industry is the second largest in the UK, with only the food, beverages and tobacco processing sector above them [1], making the industry an integral part of UK manufacturing. In fact, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry adds “more than £18 billion of value to the UK economy every year from total annual turnover of almost £56 billion” [3]. More than 30% of everything manufactured in the UK is exported to other countries [4].

The chemical industry is prevalent in the North
As reported by both CEFIC and the CIA, the North West of England is the leading chemical producer in the UK, followed by Scotland, the North East and the Yorkshire/Humber areas [1]. The North West of England chemical industry is worth £10 billion [2] and this huge value is supported by organisations such as Chemicals North West to focus on “the interests and activities of the chemical-using industries” in this area [2]. However, London and the South East are growing in importance due to businesses locating their headquarters in the capital [4].

Pressure applied for the industry to go green
As behaviours change and stricter regulations are implemented, the need for the chemical industry to go green continues to rise. The chemical industry is continually looking to decrease it’s impact on the environment through waste and emissions, instead turning to alternative processes and products that are kinder to our surroundings [4].

The CIA notes that "the chemicals sector is uniquely placed to provide both a direct and indirect contribution to achieving net zero by 2050" [5]. The chemical industry is unique in that it is "the builder" of a net zero economy with solutions used in homes, at work and throughout every day life, saving at least 2 tonnes of greenhouse gases for every 1 tonne we directly emit [5].


[1] https://www.chemlandscape.cefic.org/country/united-kingdom/
[2] https://www.cia.org.uk/chemicalsnorthwest/About-Us/
[3] https://www.cia.org.uk/About-us/Our-industry
[4] https://www.santandercb.co.uk/s3fsfactsheets/eef_santander_sector_bulletin_chemicals.pdf
[5] https://www.cia.org.uk/news/details/Making-net-zero-happen

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