An Innovative Chemical Industry

Global Innovation Chemical Leader

The UK is a leading global chemical producer, respected for its broad capabilities and impressive productivity, combined with its innovation and commitment to safety, standards and sustainability.

Attractive for Investor

Benefiting from natural resources and a world-class science and manufacturing ecosystem, the UK chemical industry offers investors an attractive combination of established facilities, a skilled workforce and a culture of innovation that is creating new applications and supporting added-value products. Our broad range of innovative speciality chemicals, cost-effective basic chemicals and petrochemicals along with the industry’s mature supply chain have helped it become one of the UK’s largest export sectors.

Traditional & New Market Opportunities

The success of the UK’s hi-tech sectors – including aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals is driving demand for sophisticated chemical products, while investments in shale gas infrastructure make the UK a competitive place to manufacture petrochemicals and derivatives.Exciting market opportunities also abound in green chemistry and battery chemistry. The UK sets corporation tax at 19%, lower of any country in the G7. 

£12.6 billion

The UK chemical sector contributes of the UK's Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2019

£35.1 billion

The UK chemical sector total sales turnover in 2019


Approximately 30,000 people are involved in chemicals R&D in the UK.

£31.3 billion

The chemical industry is one of the largest manufacturing exporter in the UK, with a total value of exports approximately £31.3 billion in 2019.

2 tonnes

The UK chemical industry currently delivers two tonnes of greenhouse gas savings for every one tonne emitted through production processes.


Patent Box– companies can apply a lower rate of Corporation Tax of 10% on profits from patented inventions and certain innovations

Circular Economy

The UK has many companies active across industrial sectors, offering several opportunities to feed into the circular economy

Converting waste to feedstocks

Ensus (Teesside) has one of Europe’s largest bioethanol plants. Velocys (Oxford) converts waste oils to biofuels. Greenergy Biofuels (Teesside) is Europe’s largest manufacturer of biodiesel from waste.

Sustainable consumer products

Cambond (Cambridge) has developed environmentally friendly adhesives for the construction sector. Synthomer (Harlow) is one of the world’s major suppliers of aqueous polymers.

Sustainable packaging

Biome Bioplastics (Southampton) makes natural plastics from sugars used for biodegradable food packaging. Colloids (Knowsley) makes black pigments for food packaging that can be detected by recycling systems. Poseidon Plastics (Redcar) has developed a recycling technology that converts polyester waste to virgin monomer for reuse.

Personal Care & Home Care

The UK is the world’s 6th largest beauty market and comprises of 1700 companies, 40,000 products and 1800 brands. As well as formulators of traditional and novel hygiene and cleaning products, the UK is home of flavours and fragrance operator RC Treatt PLC, as well as Givaudan, Proctor & Gamble and Symrise.The UK industry is innovative, dynamic and creative and is highly reliant on science and technology to ensure product safety, develop new products, support marketing claims, manufacture to the highest standards and meet increasing consumer demands for ethics, sustainability and traceability. This applies to both finished products and the raw materials that are formulated into them. Driven by its increasingly strong understanding of the consumer, the UK’s chemical industry is well-positioned to meet market requirements for transparent, sustainable, environmentally friendly and ethical practices and products. Development of plant-derived ingredients and extraction technologies, sustainable manufacturing processes and innovative methods to provide valid alternatives to animal testing are key examples. In addition, the industry is well served by associations such as Cosmetics Cluster UK, CTPA (Cosmetics, Toiletries & Perfumery Association) and the Society of Cosmetic Scientists.

Battery Chemical

Current battery technology is limited, so vehicles dependent on this technology do not match the performance of those powered by gasoline or diesel. Chemistry innovation is needed to develop new materials such as the core anodes and cathodes. Increased battery performance to address issues of capacity, charging speed and lifetime will ensure that a future with electric cars becomes a reality. Many UK companies are active in this area, working with the existing innovation infrastructure, such as the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, to produce the new materials needed to manufacture viable electric cars to replace current fossil fuel-based vehicles. Demand for lithium is rising rapidly and new sources will be required to meet accelerating demand. The UK has natural lithium resources both in the ground and in the sea, as lithium is present in high concentrations in the North Sea aquifers. Technology capable of extracting lithium from seawater is not yet at commercial scale, and innovations are required to improve the efficiency of the extraction techniques to potentially allow the UK to tap into this market opportunity whilst securing a strategic raw material.

Specialty Chemical

With established strengths in academia and science, the production of value-added speciality chemicals is key to the UK chemical sector’s ongoing success. Our products underpin a wide number of sectors both domestically and around the world, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products, agrichemicals, water treatment, oil and gas, contract manufacturing, electronics, and battery manufacture. With the capability to design and manufacture complex molecules safely and at scale, the UK is a trusted partner across industries including automotive, aerospace, food, cosmetics, agriculture, manufacturing and textiles. There are more than 250 locations in the UK in this sector, which is a key innovator for advanced manufacturing and construction industries.


The UK’s agrochemicals capabilities range in scope from the traditional ammonium nitrate fertiliser and formulators (and supporting ammonia plants), through to capabilities in a wide range of advanced crop protection chemicals, including novel alginates and mined products such as potash and polyhalites.

Hydrogen Economy

Using hydrogen as an energy carrier would provide a new source of low carbon energy. However, for a hydrogen economy to be developed effectively, innovative new technologies which can efficiently and inexpensively derive and process the hydrogen will be required. Furthermore, hydrogen also needs to be developed as a feedstock. With Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) being developed to prevent carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, carbon dioxide itself represents another new feedstock. However, for this to become a reality, Carbon Capture, Storage and Use (CCSU) techniques need to be developed at scale.