Chemicals and the chemical industry have become an extremely important part of the economies of many countries. CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, estimates the value of the chemicals produced worldwide in 1997 at £1,223 billion (CEFIC 1998). The European Union ranks as the largest producer of chemicals, accounting for 31% of global production, with more than 60% of European production being concentrated in four countries—Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. In the USA, which is responsible for 28% of world chemical production, the chemical industry contributes more than 2% of total gross domestic product (GDP) and 10% of manufacturing sector GDP (US EPA 1996). In terms of tonnage, it is difficult to come up with an accurate figure. However, to give an idea of the quantities of chemicals concerned, according to Chemical and Engineering News the 50 largest tonnage chemicals produced in the USA in 1995 totalled 340 million tonnes ( C&EN 1996). However, it is not only large countries that are major chemicals producers. Even a small country such as Switzerland has focused on the chemical manufacturing sector, in particular on pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, and this sector of the economy now covers more than 25% of the country’s exports.