INSIGHT by PlanetTracker

Latest Planet Tracker research finds BASF and Solvay worst culprits for toxic emissions in trilateral chemical region (Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands), responsible for 3 million tonnes and 16.5 million tonnes respectively.

The report finds the region has released 125 million tonnes of chemicals since 2010, resulting in devastating consequences for human and environmental health, including 24,640 years of health life lost and 57 billion fractions of species affected.

Planet Tracker declares financial backers of petrochemical industry, led by BlackRock, Vanguard and JPMorgan, must take action to demand change and publishes a new data dashboard providing investors with a toolkit to minimise toxic releases.

New research of one of the world’s largest petrochemical concentrations, the trilateral chemical region of Europe (Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands), shows companies are emitting vast amounts of toxic emissions into the atmosphere. Despite petrochemical toxicity posing huge health and environmental concerns, Planet Tracker finds investors funding petrochemical players are largely overlooking the issue.

The analysis follows Toxic Footprints US which studied the US Gulf States region, finding the products we use daily from cosmetics to carpets carry heavy toxic footprints and called on the biggest financial backers of the petrochemical industry in the region to act urgently.

The latest report, Toxic Footprints Europe, identifies 1,093 facilities in the trilateral chemical region, which are found to have released and transferred 125 million tonnes of chemicals since 2010, resulting in 24,640 years of healthy life lost and 57 billion fractions of species affected.

With almost 5,000 financial institutions funding petrochemical plants in the trilateral chemical region, led by BlackRock (5.4% total investments), Vanguard (5.2%) and JPMorgan Chase (3.6%), investors have a key role to play in minimising toxic emissions. Planet Tracker also points to ongoing negotiations to create a Global Plastic Treaty which would clamp down on toxic releases, meaning investors must pressurise the industry to change or face burgeoning regulatory risk.


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The report pinpoints the worst polluters in the industry, with the top two – BASF and Solvay – responsible for almost a third of all toxic pollution (34.8 million tonnes). It presents the findings in an interactive dashboard for investors, to help them better understand the risks associated with their investments and act to minimise toxic emissions.


“Unlike carbon emissions, which are a common component of net zero transition plans, toxic releases are largely hidden from the agendas of corporates, financiers and policymakers.

“Given the vast implications they pose to the health of both the planet and its people, action to minimise their risk is critical. Identifying those producers responsible for much of the emissions is an important step, but it is the financial institutions that have the ultimate power to bring about sweeping change and ensure improved, healthier lives for millions of people.”   

-Thalia Bofiliou, Senior Investment Analyst in Planet Tracker’s Plastic Programme


The report calls on financiers of all types to undertake due diligence to determine whether these toxic footprints are acceptable. The primary questions financiers should be asking about their investments are:

  • Are they aware of their investment or financing exposure to individual petrochemical facilities?
  • Have they examined their total toxic footprint and that of each facility?
  • Do companies and facilities share the complete set of pollution data?
  • Does the management team operate these facilities in the safest way using up to date emission control technologies?

Toxic Footprints Europe: Exposing the financiers behind petrochemical toxicity in the EU Chemical Trilateral region can be downloaded in full here.

Toxic Footprints US: Exposing the financiers behind petrochemical toxicity in the US Gulf States can be downloaded in full here.


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Planet Tracker is an award-winning non-profit think tank focused on sustainable finance with the purpose of ensuring that capital markets’ investment and lending decisions are aligned with planetary boundaries and support a just transition. Its mission is to create transformation of global financial activities by 2030 to bring about real world change in our means of production so that they align with a resilient, just, net-zero and nature-positive economy. Planet Tracker serves both as a watchdog on corporate behaviour, including issues such as greenwashing, and serves as an ally to support finance and business to know how to undertake transition. By identifying the companies causing the worst environmental and social damage within targeted supply chains, Planet Tracker then identifies the investors and lenders in these companies whose financing is enabling these practices to continue unchallenged.


All opinions expressed are those of the author and/or quoted sources. is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.