Chemicals are used in a wide variety of consumer goods and also inputs to agriculture, industries, construction and other service sector industries. 26% of the total output of the chemical companies are consumed within the industry itself.
The products of the chemical companies are mainly used in making rubber and plastic products, textiles, petroleum refining, pulp and paper, and primary metals.
The chemical industry has grown rapidly in the last 50 years. The synthetic organic polymers used as plastics, fibers and elastomers have made the most serious progress.
Throughout history, Western Europe, North America, and Japan have been the major chemical producers. In the USA, there are 170 major chemical companies with more than 1,700 foreign subsidiaries. The total chemical output of the USA is $400 billion. They employ more than one million people.
In Europe, Germany is the most important chemical producer in the plastic and rubber sector. In Europe, the chemical companies employ more than 3.2 million people and include more than 60,000 companies.
Both inorganic and organic industrial chemicals are produced by the companies:
- Organic industrial - phenol, ethylene oxide, urea, acrylonitrile,
- Inorganic Industrial - ammonia, sulfuric acid, nitrogen, sodium hydroxide
- Polymers - polyethylene, Bakelite, polyester
- Ceramic products - silica brick, frit
- Petrochemicals - benzene, ethylene, styrene
- Agrochemicals - fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides
- Fragrances and flavors - benzine benzoate, coumarin, vanillin
- Elastomers - polyisoprene, neoprene, polyurethane
- Explosives - nitroglycerin, ammonium nitrate, nitrocellulose