Steve Kratz is a Bravo Group Senior Director and president of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council. With more than 15 years of political, government and advocacy campaign experience, Steve brings solutions to clients across industries, including Fortune 500 companies and trade associations, with a special focus on businesses in highly regulated industries. 

  • Advanced recycling, chemical manufacturing and the move to a circular economy will be hot button issues not just for the chemical, plastics and waste communities, and regulators, but for any company looking to reduce its carbon footprint and provide more sustainable product options for customers. We all depend upon plastics in our daily lives, but the challenge of plastic waste is growing. Long-proven advanced recycling technologies, which only recently became economically viable, transform plastics into base materials that can be used to create new products, fuels and materials. This includes new advances to tackle hard-to-recycle plastics. That’s the purest example of a circular economy, where all materials are reused and no waste is created. In 2019, Pennsylvania passed advanced recycling legislation, which positioned the commonwealth as a leader amongst states in this burgeoning nationwide industry. Set up Google alerts on this topic for sure.


  • Industry will continue to lead the way in investing in sustainable innovations to achieve net-zero emission goals. Advanced recycling is just a fraction of the action. Companies have set their own aggressive carbon goals that dovetail with their business plans and values, and they are diversifying their energy choices, reducing material and virgin resource use, and developing novel ways to produce sustainably. The key is to allow market and customer demand to be the leading factors for industry decisions on how and when to make these investments. Policymakers need to refrain from forcing ever-more stringent and unrealistic mandates, which only quashes innovation. It will be a continuing saga of innovators vs. regulators, and finding common ground to achieve mutually desired outcomes.


  • Pennsylvania’s divided government could provide a unique opportunity for developing truly bipartisan solutions. With a likely evenly divided or narrowly controlled House, a new administration and a Republican-controlled Senate, the ingredients are available to dish up a true bipartisan stew of legislation to move the Keystone State above the mire of today’s political climate. It’s a rare opportunity to effectively address the state’s infrastructure needs, emerging energy options and policies that let public and private sectors work together for progress. Do we have what it takes to sustain the new promise these changes bring, or will we quickly revert to partisan politics as usual? 


  • The pandemic brought increased attention to an issue that has been brewing for several decades: how to effectively move raw materials to manufacturers, and end products to consumers. Our modern world depends on efficient supply chains. Getting a gift delivered on Dec. 26 is annoying; not being able to get PPE, vaccines, respirators and pharmaceuticals can be a matter of life or death. From medical equipment, new vehicles, building materials, energy, pharmaceuticals and more, there is a renewed emphasis by industry and government leaders on shoring up supply chains and growing advanced manufacturing capacity in proximity to customers. Government leaders who effectively balance economic and tax incentives with regulatory policies that encourage economic investment and growth will be well positioned to capitalize on growing advanced manufacturing in their states. 


  • PFASPFOS and PFOA are “forever chemicals” that have become a primary focus for federal and state regulators across the country. While most manufacturers have phased out or are phasing out the use of these compounds in products such as nonstick cookware, waterproof cosmetics and firefighting foam, the characteristics of what made these chemicals effective have now become a challenge to manage and mitigate. As state and federal regulators tackle changes, industry environmental leads are frantically trying to keep up on compliance requirements, which vary in each state. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue new rules in 2023. Will they strike the proper balance to protect public and environmental health and safety, while establishing realistic expectations for industry compliance? One thing is certain: Regulating forever chemicals and environmental justice are going to dominate the regulatory space this year.

By Steve Kratz, President, Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council
January 2023


Environmental stewardship and sustainability aren’t routinely spoken in the same breath as the plastics and chemicals industries in general circles. But as members of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council are proving, our industry is leading the charge with innovations in circular manufacturing, production and advanced recycling to create a more sustainable, energy-efficient future.

With more than 30 years serving as the voice of chemical and related industries in the Keystone State, PCIC has supported the growth of the industry largely by highlighting the products our members make and the services they provide that are indispensable to our way of life. Plastics are essential to harnessing renewable energy sources, building more fuel-efficient cars, designing energy-smart buildings and even producing lighter running shoes. We also learned early in the pandemic how critical our industry is as the building block for nearly every medical and health care product we use, ranging from life-saving equipment and infection-protection materials to PPE, disinfectants and sanitizers, and more.

Keenly aware of their vital role in our everyday lives, PCIC members are leading the charge to advance new innovations with a focus on sustainability, circularity and establishing low- or no-carbon goals.

Here’s a glance at the innovations of a few of our members:

Encina Development Group aims to transform end-of-life plastics into their original base forms that can be used to make new plastics. With plans to build its first commercial-scale facility in Point Township, Pennsylvania, Encina is expected to divert upward of 450,000 metric tons of plastic waste materials from being landfilled, incinerated or ending up in our streets, rivers and oceans. It’s a welcome technology — up to 85% of our plastics aren’t recycled and 30 million rural and 15 million suburban households lack curbside recycling

3M launches about 1,000 new products every year and has long since met its goal of building sustainability into 100% of them through measures such as using renewable materials and reducing, eliminating or reformulating plastic packaging. Just a few examples of its products in this vein range from smog-reducing granules for roof shingles and recyclable padded mailers to retroreflective highway sign sheeting and wet-reflective pavement markings. 3M aims to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations by 2050.

Covestro produces advanced polymers and high-performance plastics globally. Its many sustainability moves include making concrete floor coatings that are better for both the interior and exterior environment and that last three to four times longer than typical floor coating products; using bio-based raw materials as hardeners for automotive paints; and capturing and using carbon dioxide in raw materials that are used in mattresses, car interiors and sports flooring. Covestro hopes to hit net zero emissions from its own production and from purchased energy by 2035.

Other examples include LANXESS recycling polycarbonate water bottles to derive materials needed to make everyday items such as laptop covers. BASF has entered into two power agreements, totaling 250 megawatts, that will offset more than 20 manufacturing sites in the U.S. with solar and wind power. DOW is investing in partnerships to secure circular feedstocks derived from advanced recycling materials.

The list goes on. We are constantly sharing these great member stories but, hopefully, the message is clear: PCIC members are at the forefront of innovation and investment in new technologies to advance sustainability and a brighter environmental future.

Steve Kratz is a senior director at Bravo Group as well as president of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council. To read more about the council’s work, click here.

It's hard to believe it was just last March that COVID-19 took hold in our state. This past year has taken a physical, mental and emotional toll on so many. In spite of and through those challenges, communities came together, leaders created solutions and there have been so many inspiring stories from Pennsylvania - particularly from the state's chemical industry. 

Of course, we may be biased, so we'll let their work and generous acts over the last year tell the story and others share their thoughts. 


From disinfectants and wipes to ventilators, test tubes and vaccines, chemicals are the building blocks, and chemistry the starting point, for almost every product used to manage COVID-19. Pennsylvania ranks eighth nationally in manufacturing, with chemicals as the top sector. This industry exports $8.9 billion annually in manufactured goods, supplying the regional, national and global healthcare markets.

In March 2020, amid the closure of nonessential businesses, Pennsylvania’s chemical manufacturers pressed play on company crisis action plans, increased production and retrofitted operations to meet the demand for disinfectants and to provide hospitals and health care workers with the medical equipment and intensive care tools needed to treat patients.

In March and April, employees of Braskem, a global petrochemical company, voluntarily lived on-site at their Marcus Hook facility for 28 days, working around the clock to manufacture polypropylene and produce nonwoven fabric to help meet the demand for N95 masks, hospital gowns, hoods and sanitary wipes.

With supplies for disinfectants scarce, Pressure Chemical Co. in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania engaged in several discussions with the Allegheny Health Network to reserve operations scheduling to be on-call for potential sanitizer manufacturing demands, and supplied products to local distilleries in a collaborative effort to increase the region’s sanitizer supply. The company also ramped up production of thermochromic products it supplies for disposable thermometers to help meet the demand for these units.

As part of mitigation efforts, many states, including Pennsylvania, required shields to be installed at retailers where cashiers or clerks interact with the public. Arkema, with its Plexiglas business headquarters in Bristol, Pennsylvania coordinated efforts from Pennsylvania to maximize production at its sheet plants across the country to meet the demand and keep retailers, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential, public-facing businesses open. The company also repurposed a production line at its plant in Geneseo, New York to manufacture 10,000 gallons – enough to fill 110,000 12 oz. bottles – of hand sanitizer solution. This solution, made with the company’s own hydrogen peroxide, was donated to four states the company has key operations in, including Pennsylvania.

“This past year amplified how strong and resilient our essential workers are especially in times of crisis – and chemical manufacturers are no exception,” Acting Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health Alison Beam said. “This network of committed individuals has sacrificed a lot over the last year and that does not go unnoticed. The Wolf Administration continues to navigate through this pandemic by getting more vaccine into arms and advocating to all Pennsylvanians to practice health habits like washing your hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask as you continue to serve our communities across the commonwealth.”

As the pandemic and mitigation efforts have evolved, the high demand products and tools have also evolved and manufacturers have kept pace. As vaccine distribution moves forward, Styropek in Monaca, Pennsylvania has ramped up production on its expanded polystyrene resin to manufacture polystyrene coolers to protect the vaccines in transit and distribution.  


Pennsylvania’s chemical manufacturers have made significant global and state contributions in products over the last year, and they are helping to meet the needs of their local communities.

3M’s manufacturing team in Aston, Pennsylvania donated boxes of safety glasses to Einstein Medical Center and MossRehab in Philadelphia. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, 3M has doubled its annual global output of N95 respirators to over 2 billion; and produces nearly 100 million per month in the United States.

Albemarle donated 40 liters of Isopropyl Alcohol to their local Tyrone Community Pharmacy for hand sanitizer production. The company also purchased and donated hand sanitizer to local AMED (Ambulance Service), N95 masks to the Tyrone Police Department, and goggles and face shields to the Tyrone Hospital.

"The COVID-19 pandemic created extraordinary supply chain challenges for hospitals trying to secure the personal protective equipment and resources needed to respond to the crisis,” said Andy Carter, President and CEO, for The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP). “Seeing the urgent need for supplies, Pennsylvania’s state government, manufacturing, and life sciences organizations came together to retool their operations and support the health care community during this difficult time. This collaboration early on during the pandemic made a huge difference in the availability of resources, which directly helped our patients and health care workers; and it will pay dividends in the future.”

Covestro, with its North American headquarters in Pittsburgh, donated $67,500 to local food programs experiencing a significant increase in need.

Dow, with manufacturing and research and development sites in Bristol, Collegeville and Croydon, Pennsylvania, retrofitted an existing facility to produce hand sanitizer to meet demand early on. Dow also donated $3 million to COVID-19 efforts — $2 million to assist with immediate impacts and $1 million to build community resilience in the recovery phase.

DuPont, with a manufacturing facility in Towanda, donated 100 cases of Tyvek® protective suits to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to distribute to health care workers with the highest need statewide.

LANXESS, a specialty chemical firm with its head office for the Americas region in Pittsburgh, provided boxes of latex gloves, lab coats and masks to the Allegheny County Public Works Department.

PPG, with headquarters in Pittsburgh, donated more than 20,000 N95 masks to UPMC and Allegheny Health Network hospitals.

Shell Polymers partnered with the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce in May to donate care packages with COVID-19 safety items, household essentials, food and gas cards to local families and individuals in need. The company also helped fund lunches to front-line workers and made donations to local organizations, including the Beaver County YMCA, Meals on Wheels, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and local hospitals. In September, through its partnership with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Shell Polymers procured a truckload of food and other supplies from Convoy of Hope and set up a drive-thru site to distribute food and other disaster relief supplies to more than 1,000 families in Beaver County. Additionally, with the donation of thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer, close to one thousand N95 masks, gloves and face shields to health care organizations, Shell continues to play a role in ensuring Pennsylvania’s frontline workers have the necessary equipment to safely carry on with their essential work.

“It’s often an afterthought where the products we use every day originate until we can’t get them. This pandemic has demonstrated how critical the role is that these companies play in the health and safety of our communities and how fortunate we are to have a strong base here in Pennsylvania, reducing our reliance on imported products,” said Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council President, Abby Foster. “We thank them for their leadership and innovation in getting the job done safely in extraordinary circumstances to meet demand, while also caring for their local communities.”  

Pennsylvania's chemical manufacturing sector has been fully operational throughout the pandemic and these frontline workers will be eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1B under the state's vaccination plan so they may continue to provide essential products and services to Pennsylvania.

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