Time to read: 7 minutes

Distribution’s role in a greener economy

By: Brett Levy & Dan Andersson

As a technical solutions distributor, IMCD plays an integral role in simplifying the topic of sustainability, “Thinking Beyond The Materials.”

As consumers and businesses continue to commit to greener ways of living and working, sustainability is now more important than ever. Governments, industries and companies are pledging new initiatives to minimise their impact on the environment. Global chemical manufacturers are developing new technologies geared towards a circular tomorrow. 

Distribution has a front-row seat at the emergence of a new global green economy, where corporate growth is not just being measured in terms of profit, but by overall sustainable impact.

The general understanding of a distributor’s role is to provide a product for an application at a competitive price. However, to our understanding at IMCD, the distribution’s role is much more: we take a technical solutions-based approach. Our teams don’t stop at material selection but go beyond the chemistry and processes with valuable knowledge sharing, local warehousing, technical support, and service excellence. We work with our partners to deliver a solution that helps them achieve their goals – whether in terms of profit or environmental performance, or both. In the process, we make sure our clients improve their knowledge, business processes and value chains. 

Green economy city by Midjourney AI

IMCD’s Sustainable Solutions are technologies, products and processes that minimise businesses’ environmental impact as compared to existing choices. With its holistic view across a broad range of 24 markets, IMCD plays an integral role in supporting our customers and principal partners in their sustainability efforts.

We add value by way of three pillars:

  • Market Insights Library and knowledge centre,
  • Simplifying material portfolio into 8 Key Sustainability Categories,
  • Expert global industry task forces.
  • IMCD’s Sustainable role in the green economy

    Sustainability wind turbines

    IMCD partners with companies of all sizes to help them decomplexify sustainability challenges in the face of ever-evolving demands, regulations, and sustainability targets.

    We combine our market intelligence, technical expertise, and product know-how with global best-practice drawn from a presence in 24 markets across more than 50 countries, guiding customers towards the right choices for their products.

    While sustainable distribution is now of paramount importance, the depth of the subject means that simply approaching the concept can be an overwhelming task.

    As a distribution partner, IMCD helps break down this complexity through education.

    IMCD Insights Library

    As a distributor, IMCD works to shorten the runway to understanding sustainability by decomplexifying different topics across every aspect of the business.

    We have industry experts and targeted taskforces that track and analyse the pulse on both global mega-trends and local market developments to ensure all of our partners stay ahead of the curve.

    These reports are housed in IMCD’s Insights Library, also known as our New Frontiers Knowledge Center. This library is full of free resources for customers to access, including articles, annual Trend Reports, ongoing podcasts, and educational whitepapers.

    These resources help simplify such topics as how to reduce CO₂, the role of the waste hierarchy in the circular economy, or how plastic contributes to sustainability.

    IMCD Insights Library page on a laptop
    As a one-stop resource, the Insights Library supports our partners in navigating the complexities of green solutions and fills an industry gap for sustainability resources that are educational, actionable, and measurable.

    Eight ways to improve sustainability

    Our second pillar is our Sustainable Solutions directory, composed of the eight sustainability categories shown below. Each category includes solutions that promote green strategies through materials, technology and process optimisation to help manufacturers further their sustainability journey.

    The eight sustainability solutions are: 


    A group of materials that are not durable in certain conditions and include soil, water, marine classified options that decompose into water, CO₂ and biomass. This category includes polymers, additives and compounds that support high-performance applications but can also be easily broken down after use.

  • These materials need specific conditions to biodegrade which are soil, water and marine. Each of these conditions have specific test methods and certifications.
  • Much like when using compostable materials, a full life cycle analysis must be performed to ensure they are beneficial for the environment.
  • CO₂ Reduction

    Materials that reduce CO₂ typically come from renewable sources, they may be recycled, and can help reduce weight, waste, and energy.

  • CO₂ Reduction is a comprehensive effort looking at the full value chain of materials and products. Global leaders in chemistry manufacturing are extending new efforts to provide Carbon Footprint values to key product offerings. Reducing waste and optimizing processes are a step in the right direction, however, often times not enough. Re-designs to remove material, weight reduction designs utilizing innovative new materials and a different way of thinking is required to drive CO₂ Footprint to as close to zero as possible.
  • Compostable

    IMCD’s compostable solutions comprise materials can be returned to the earth after use, whether through industrial or home composting. Compostable materials can be developed from both organic and petrochemical sources and are subject to certification in different markets.

  • Waste is one of the biggest issues we face and there are many ways on how to reduce waste. Materials that are compostable can contribute to reduce the waste but won’t fully solve the waste problems we see in the world.
  • Following the waste hierarchy, these materials should be used when it’s not possible to reuse or recycle.
  • End-of-Life Enhancement

    These are innovative solutions that improve the durability of polymer products, or which help packaging last longer and promote recyclability.

  • A circular economy is the end goal. Not all products and materials can be recycled indefinitely, and most require additives to help meet performance criteria in a end-of-life enhancement. Anti-oxidants, tougheners, UV Additives, and Acid Scavengers are a few of the end-of-life enhancement chemistries that the IMCD team is evaluating based off of the end-of-life product/program, what is the fit, form, function performance required and ensure IMCD supports customers from A to Z.
  • Material selection is also key with end-of-life enhancement in mind, focused on durability and performance.
  • Recyclability

    This category is all about giving the materials a second life and enabling recycling. It also contains recycled grades coming from the industrial and post-consuming streams. They include additives for improving recyclate quality such as antioxidants.

  • There are different methods to recycle such as mechanical recycling and chemical recycling. They are complementary processes that can be used to enable materials to re-enter the cycle again.
  • To make these materials a viable choice for various types of applications they often need re-stabilisation to bring them back to life or additives that improves their performance. These kinds of additives are key to enable recycling.
  • Renewable Source

    These materials can be polymers, additives, and/or reinforcement materials that are based on a renewable source.

  • Materials that are partially or fully made from a renewable source can help to reduce the use of fossil raw materials. These materials don’t have to be biodegradable or compostable, there are many durable options as well.
  • When applying renewable materials, it is essential to do the full life cycle analysis to ensure that they are truly beneficial to the environment beyond reducing fossil-based materials.
  • Waste Reduction

    These solutions help minimise product packaging and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. In turn, this reduces costs and material needs, while appealing to customers. Using a high-performance cleaning compound is a great way to start reducing your waste while also reducing overall cost and energy usage between runs.

  • There are different stages where waste reductions come into play. It may be when choosing a material for your application that fits its use and end of life. It may also be the reduction of time(energy) and waste during your production.
  • Weight Reduction

    These materials have their structure remodelled to reduce the amount of materials used while maintaining the same mechanical and thermal properties. By minimising weight, they save on costs and bring an added value to the environment.

  • Weight reduction can be achieved through a multi-faceted design approach. Historically designed metal components are heavier and have a high energy profile throughout its manufacturing life. Metal Replacement has been a large focus of the Aerospace & Automotive industries moving to molded thermoplastics, foamed urethanes and composites to reduce the overall vehicle weights. New commercial aerospace designs consist of 80% polymer components, showing the future of weight reduction efforts to maximize energy output and minimize environmental impact.
  • Industry-focused technical expertise

    Business relies on teamwork. Sustainability is no different.

    Collaboration underpins the third pillar of IMCD’s role as a distributor. IMCD’s experts bring an in-depth understanding to sustainability problems. Backed by deep experience across industries and geographies, our technical account managers can advise on complex material and design solutions.

    This expert role often extends to challenging and stimulating customers’ thinking around alternative distribution strategies. 

    Enable third party cookies to play this video

    Below you can enable third party cookies. Your choice will be saved and the page will not refresh.



    Biopolymers, for example, are rightly recognised as a sustainable solution. However, despite the high public awareness around the material, it isn’t always the greenest choice, particularly when fused with other materials. Depending on the product, conventional polymers may be more sustainable thanks to its durable nature and easy recyclability. In such cases, IMCD evaluates and works with customers with sustainable alternatives that work for the specific product and for the planet.

    As an outsourced sustainability partner, IMCD functions as an integral part of customers’ teams to discover routes to optimize business.

    Reach out to IMCD today

    The quest for sustainability can be difficult to realize in practice, particularly as organizations look to balance cost concerns with stakeholder demands and market realities. 

    As part of our mission to think beyond the materials, IMCD makes it easy for our partners to understand and utilise sustainable solutions at every step of their journey, to make a positive impact on their organization and the world.
    Our Insights Library, Sustainable Solutions and Technical Account Managers comprise a three-pronged approach that educates and inspires our partners to do business more sustainably. 

    Schedule a consultation with us today to see how we can align and strengthen your organisation’s sustainability objectives.

    Explore more resources

    Decomplexifying the topic of reducing CO₂
    Read now
    Reusable plastic: Considering environment, testing and end-of-life in design
    Read now
    Sustainability in medical and healthcare applications
    Sustainability in medical and healthcare applications
    Read now

    Brett Levy

    Brett Levy
    Brett is the Regional Sales Manager, West & Central US – Advanced Materials, leading and managing a team of Technical Account Managers across half of the US. Brett has a degree in Chemical Engineering, worked for Schlumberger Well Service for years out of college designing, executing and evaluating high pressure well integrity and stimulation jobs across multiple basins in the US. Revamped the Sales & Marketing strategy with a multi-channel approach reaching and impacting industries from Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Oil & Gas, Semiconductor, Wastewater & more.

    About Dan Andersson

    Dan Andersson
    Dan Andersson is a sales manager in Sweden as well as IMCD Advanced Materials’ Global Sustainability Coordinator. With more than 10 years in R&D management, Dan has spent most of his career developing colour masterbatches and compounds for customers like LEGO, IKEA and across markets. To transfer his knowledge and experience, Dan hosts regular educational seminars about sustainability to support our customers in their move towards greener solutions.