Chemical producers would pay a 0.5% tax on the basic chemicals that they produce, under an idea being floated by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a US environmental group, and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), a global network of environmental health NGOs. The tax would cover basic chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine and methanol and the revenue would be used to fund chemical waste management.

Sales of such feedstocks totalled $2.3 trillion (£1.8 trillion) in 2018 so the proposed tax could raise approximately $11.5 billion annually, CIEL and IPEN estimate. The tax would be used to help developing countries improve their management of chemicals and waste, including support systems for testing and approving new chemicals, and regulating and monitoring chemical facilities waste.

‘As the primary drivers and beneficiaries of the global chemical trade, chemical producers must take greater responsibility for the safe management of their products,’ CIEL and IPEN assert in their new report. ‘This begins with taking financial responsibility for the production of feedstock chemicals that fuel the global chemicals sector – including the rapidly growing petrochemical industry.’