“The lack of basic raw materials is a serious challenge for the Colombian petrochemical industry. The majority of us depend on imported feedstock, which is a weakness that will have to be resolved in order for the petrochemical industry in Colombia to develop.”
Can you introduce Esenttia and explain its significance to Colombia’s petrochemical industry?
Esenttia is a Colombian company owned 100% by the Grupo Empresarial Ecopetrol and dedicated to the production of polypropylene and masterbatches as well as to the commercialization of polyethylene. Esenttia’s polypropylene capacity is 480,000 tons, of which 40% covers the local market and the rest is for the export market, making us the largest petrochemical company in Colombia.
Esenttia has experienced growth in Latin America in recent years. What are the reasons underpinning its success?
Esenttia’s market focus is specialties – looking for customers that value the differentiation and quality of our resins. This strategy has allowed us to erode some of the market share held by other polypropylene producers in Latin America. Additionally, we have concentrated on growth not only in Latin America but throughout the rest of the Americas, including countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, the wider Central America region, the United States and finally Brazil, which is very important market for Esenttia despite the fact that our participation there is still relatively low.
Since being named president of Esenttia in 2018, how have you defined the strategy of the company?
Our strategy is concentrated in the following pillars: 1) Strong Customer focus; 2) Environment and Circular economy; 3) Innovation and new business; 4) Digital Transformation; and finally 5) Human Resources.
Can you provide details of Esenttia’s initiatives to promote sustainability and recycling in Colombia?
Sustainability and the creation of a circular economy in Colombia has taken on great importance in recent years, and to talk about that we have to consider two very important topics. The first one is the role that the state has in terms of the regulation of waste management. Up until now, it has not facilitated the issue of sustainability within the country. We must work with the state to help to define a good public policy. On the other hand, there is the issue of citizens' behavior – a lot of work is needed regarding the education of the people. We at Esenttia are trying to get people to connect with sustainability matters. We have developed many social initiatives based on recycled plastics in Cartagena. Esenttia has built parks, houses and docks and works a lot with the schools and communities in order to reinforce a culture of recycling.
What are the key challenges currently facing Colombia’s petrochemical industry?
The lack of basic raw materials is a serious challenge for the Colombian petrochemical industry. The majority of us depend on imported feedstock, which is a weakness that will have to be resolved in order for the petrochemical industry in Colombia to develop. For example, in the second semester we will present to our board a study to increase our capacity by 70,000 tons per year, but this substantial growth for our company will only be achieved once the issue of raw material availability is dealt with, which is the case for several other companies as well.
Why do you think many multinational companies are showing interest in opening offices in Colombia?
The economic and political conditions in Colombia are currently very positive; the government has created a lot of incentives to facilitate business growth, and the security situation has also changed, making the country safer. The infrastructure work being done to connect the different regions of the country is also worth mentioning; the North Colombian coast has particularly benefited from this initiative, which is an excellent development for industry due to the region’s proximity to excellent and efficient ports. All of these factors create a very attractive environment for new entrepreneurs and are generating interest for new companies to start businesses here.
What are the pillars of Esenttia’s CSR policies?
All our actions are based on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). More than a CSR policy, the concept of sustainability is present in all of Esenttia processes by decision of the company's top management.
In 2018, Esenttia was recognized by the Presidency of the Republic with the Equipares Seal for our work in search of labor equity and by the Secretary of Transparency through admission to the club of Active Anticorruption Companies. Gender equity is extremely important for Esenttia. We believe that it is vital that companies like us understand the importance of having a genuine commitment to solve workplace issues. Esenttia is one of the best places to work in Colombia, having received international recognition as number 21 out of the 100 best companies to work for in Latin America. Regarding workplace safety, Essentia has received the Cruz Esmeralda Merit Award for the last three years, granted by the Colombian Security Council. We recently achieved the milestone of two years without lost time from accidents.