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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: January 13, 2021

A look ahead at the year in chemistry 

“C&EN’s World Chemical Outlook 2021”
Chemical & Engineering News

After a tumultuous 2020, the chemistry world is wondering what 2021 has in store for the field. To help guide chemists through the coming year, Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, is highlighting key business and policy issues that will impact the chemistry enterprise in the U.S. and around the world. 

In the business sphere, chemical firms are looking to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic as the U.S. economy emerges from recession. A new normal is emerging for European firms, which could see a slower recovery. And the Chinese government wants to expand specialty chemical output under its five-year plan beginning this year. Chemical companies are also enacting more ambitious climate goals, with many looking to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The pharmaceutical services industry, by contrast, will remain busy manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. In terms of consumer products, experts predict that sales of animal-free protein will soar in 2021, part of an ongoing trend that could be worth $50 billion by 2025. 

Global policies related to chemistry will also have a large impact this year, with Plan S, the open access publishing model led by European research funders, going into effect. However, research funding in Europe may face delays due to protracted negotiations with the U.K. over Brexit and with other non-E.U. countries. In China, officials continue to wrestle with how to evaluate researchers’ work, with some seeking to add qualitative measures rather than just quantitative. Meanwhile, scientists across the globe are planning to provide new parameters to define per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (known as PFAS), which are persistent chemicals that pollute the environment. 

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