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Considerations on Specialty Surfactants

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GUIDO BOGNOLO
Scientific advisory board of H&PC Today – Household and Personal Care Today (TKS Publisher)

A common debate in the chemical industries is what makes a chemical a “specialty”. 

The debate would be more sensible and productive if the meaning of “specialty” would be unequivocally defined and generally understood, rather than being the subject of individual and ad hoc interpretations.

Let aside the cute quotation from Neil Burns (see reference below) that “Specialty” is the business a company has just acquired while “Commodity” is the business it has just divested. 

It is not uncommon in the business to recur to unit price to define specialties: low price equals commodity, high price specialty. But where is the boundary between high/low? Quite subjective, isn’t it? Apart from this, it tends to confuse specialties with high price commodities: within this definition gold would be a specialty, while in reality it is the perfect illustration of a commodity.

In a 2016 article “Why are Specialty Surfactants so Special” (H&PC – Household and Personal Care Today, Vol. 11 (4), July/August 2016) Neil Burns argues that “information” i ...




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