Cel­e­brat­ing 20 years of Re­spon­si­ble Care


HEMICALS are the build­ing blocks of life and bring about ben­e­fits upon which mod­ern so­ci­ety is en­tirely de­pen­dent. They also make an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the eco­nomic and so­cial well­be­ing of peo­ple in terms of trade and em­ploy­ment and, due to their om­nipres­ence, are a sig­nif­i­cant contributor to the world econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to Dei­dré Pen­fold, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the Chem­i­cal and Al­lied In­dus­tries’ As­so­ci­a­tion (CAIA).

She says this is also true for the South African chem­i­cal in­dus­try that is a key sec­tor of the coun­try’s econ­omy in tran­si­tion – ac­count­ing for ap­prox­i­mately 25 per­cent of man­u­fac­tur­ing sales.

“Play­ing such a lead­ing role in our econ­omy, the chem­i­cal in­dus­try must be, and is, com­mit­ted to re­search and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of tech­nol­ogy, which re­sults in the de­vel­op­ment of new chem­i­cal prod­ucts that meet strict global prod­uct safety re­quire­ments and in­creased per­for­mance in the sus­tain­abil­ity arena.

“Th­ese in­vest­ments ben­e­fit so­ci­ety as a whole and re­sult in the con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in the safety, health and en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance of the South African chem­i­cal in­dus­try.”

Pen­fold says Re­spon­si­ble Care is a dy­namic ini­tia­tive that is con­stantly evolv­ing to meet the chal­lenges fac­ing chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers and all those in­volved in the value chain.

Re­spon­si­ble Care is the chem­i­cal in­dus­try’s unique global vol­un­tary ini­tia­tive that drives con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in safety, health and en­vi­ron­men­tal (SHE) per­for­mance.

Launched in Canada in 1985 to ad­dress pub­lic con­cerns re­gard­ing the man­u­fac­ture, dis­tri­bu­tion and use of chem­i­cals, the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive has spread world­wide un­der the lead­er­ship of the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil of Chem­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tions (ICCA) over the last three decades. Re­spon­si­ble Care is now prac­ticed in over 60 coun­tries around world.

CAIA is the cus­to­dian of Re­spon­si­ble Care in South Africa, where the ini­tia­tive was in­tro­duced in 1994. CAIA is a mem­ber of the ICCA which sup­ports the United Na­tions’ Strate­gic Ap­proach to In­ter­na­tional Chem­i­cals Man­age­ment (SAICM). SAICM is a pol­icy frame­work to pro­mote chem­i­cal safety around the world, hav­ing the over­all ob­jec­tive of achiev­ing the sound man­age­ment of chem­i­cals through­out their life­cy­cle, so that by 2020, chem­i­cals are pro­duced and used in ways that min­imise sig­nif­i­cant ad­verse im­pacts on hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Over the last 20 years Re­spon­si­ble Care has helped CAIA mem­ber com­pa­nies to sig­nif­i­cantly en­hance their per­for­mance and to make a strong con­tri­bu­tion to­wards sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment by em­brac­ing the de­vel­op­ment and ap­pli­ca­tion of sus­tain­able chem­istry and by sup­port­ing the in­dus­try’s man­age­ment of chem­i­cals; in­clud­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of chem­i­cal risks through­out

Cthe sup­ply chain,” says Pen­fold.

“Re­spon­si­ble Care has made an im­por­tant and unique con­tri­bu­tion to the safe han­dling of hazardous chem­i­cals, the safety of per­son­nel, the safe op­er­a­tion of pro­duc­tion pro­cesses as well as re­source ef­fi­ciency and the re­duc­tion of the gen­er­a­tion and dis­posal of all forms of waste.

“At the end of 2013, the as­so­ci­a­tion had 154 sig­na­to­ries that were com­mit­ted to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive.

“Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive is a con­di­tion of mem­ber­ship at CAIA. Most mem­ber­ship cat­e­gories are re­quired to make chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer-level com­mit­ments to up­hold the el­e­ments of the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive in their op­er­a­tions and business prac­tices in the ar­eas of: oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety; en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance; re­source ef­fi­ciency; prod­uct stew­ard­ship; trans­porta­tion safety; process safety; com­mu­nity aware­ness; and emer­gency preparedness and re­sponse,” ex­plains Pen­fold.

She says im­ple­men­ta­tion of the prin­ci­ples of the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive within a company be­gins when the company’s CEO signs the Re­spon­si­ble Care Pub­lic Com­mit­ment. This is done in the pres­ence of the company’s em­ploy­ees and other in­ter­ested par­ties. The com­mit­ment sets out the Re­spon­si­ble Care Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples and be­comes ev­i­dence of the company’s com­mit­ment to up­hold them.

“Re­spon­si­ble Care is an ethic and a com­mit­ment that seeks to build the con­fi­dence and trust in an in­dus­try that is es­sen­tial to im­prov­ing liv­ing stan­dards and qual­ity of life of peo­ple around the world. Im­por­tantly, it is also a prac­ti­cal and vis­i­ble tool for meet­ing in­dus­try’s obli­ga­tions to man­age the risks as­so­ci­ated with the pro­duc­tion and trans­porta­tion of chem­i­cals.

“Fur­ther­more, it goes beyond only meet­ing leg­isla­tive and reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments by adopt­ing co­op­er­a­tive and vol­un­tary ini­tia­tives with gov­ern­ment and other stake­hold­ers,” says Pen­fold. Com­pa­nies that com­mit to Re­spon­si­ble Care:

Im­ple­ment sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment con­cepts aimed at con­serv­ing nat­u­ral re­sources for the ben­e­fit of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions;

Pro­mote trans­par­ent com­mu­ni­ca­tion with stake­hold­ers by re­port­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion sta­tus, tar­gets and re­sults of their per­for­mance to all em­ploy­ees and the pub­lic;

Pur­sue a di­a­logue with em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers, share­hold­ers and the pub­lic – ac­tively re­spond­ing to their opin­ions and re­quests and tak­ing th­ese into ac­count in de­vel­op­ing shared best prac­tices along the whole value chain; and,

Es­tab­lish common prin­ci­ples for op­er­at­ing as a sus­tain­able and eth­i­cal sec­tor.

Pen­fold says the chem­i­cal in­dus­try recog­nises that to re­main com­pet­i­tive in a mar­ket where in­ten­si­fied reg­u­la­tions on emis­sions and waste are putting chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers un­der pres­sure, and to meet the pub­lic’s ex­pec­ta­tion for the con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in per­for­mance and the sound man­age­ment of chem­i­cals com­pa­nies must be in­no­va­tive and proac­tive in ad­dress­ing the sig­nif­i­cant sus­tain­abil­ity and eco­nomic is­sues, which are cur­rently faced in South Africa and the rest of the world.

“Re­spon­si­ble Care is there­fore based on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of best man­age­ment prac­tices, which give man­age­ment peace of mind that ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble is be­ing done to en­sure that the chem­i­cals they man­u­fac­ture will be pro­duced, stored, trans­ported and used in a re­spon­si­ble and sus­tain­able man­ner, thereby min­imis­ing the risk of po­ten­tial ad­verse con­se­quences.

“The suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive re­quires the com­mit­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tion of all company em­ploy­ees as well as the in­te­gra­tion of the Re­spon­si­ble Care Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples into the company’s ex­ist­ing man­age­ment sys­tems.

“This will re­sult in ev­ery em­ployee act­ing in line with cor­po­rate safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion ob­jec­tives,” says Pen­fold.

Re­spon­si­ble Care Man­age­ment Prac­tice Stan­dards and Guide­line Doc­u­ments pro­vide sig­na­to­ries with strate­gic di­rec­tion when it comes to the day-to-day de­ci­sions that are cru­cial to the at­tain­ment of sus­tain­abil­ity ob­jec­tives.

The CAIA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor says man­age­ment prac­tice stan­dards and guide­lines also pro­vide the cri­te­ria for the re­view of company man­age­ment sys­tems to en­sure they are suf­fi­cient to pro­tect the long-term safety and health of em­ploy­ees, com­mu­ni­ties and the en­vi­ron­ment.

She says the mea­sure­ment of per­for­mance and the as­sess­ment of com­pli­ance with the Re­spon­si­ble Care Man­age­ment Prac­tice Stan­dards are re­quire­ments for all sig­na­to­ries, which en­tails a thor­ough and on­go­ing process at sev­eral lev­els – in­clud­ing self-as­sess­ments and ver­i­fi­ca­tion au­dits which are car­ried out by in­de­pen­dent, well-trained au­di­tors.

Such an au­dit is re­quired ev­ery two or three years; de­pend­ing on the ac­tiv­ity; en­sur­ing that sig­na­to­ries are do­ing what they are re­port­ing and con­tin­u­ously im­prov­ing their per­for­mance in line with the ul­ti­mate goal of the Re­spon­si­ble Car ini­tia­tive.

Pen­fold says the ac­cu­rate re­port­ing of key per­for­mance-in­dica­tive data is at the heart of Re­spon­si­ble Care, and sig­na­tory com­pa­nies are com­mit­ted to re­port­ing openly and trans­par­ently.

Data is sub­mit­ted an­nu­ally to CAIA, which in­cludes safety, health, en­vi­ron­men­tal and man­age­ment in­for­ma­tion about their pro­cesses and prod­ucts. There are three main out­comes from the sub­mis­sion of this data; it is used to: drive con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment; eval­u­ate year-on-year per­for­mance, and bench­mark sig­na­to­ries against the over­all per­for­mance of the rel­e­vant sub­sec­tor.

Ag­gre­gate statis­tics are made pub­licly avail­able in each an­nual re­port as well as on the CAIA web­site, which is ev­i­dence of in­dus­try’s com­mit­ment to trans­parency when it comes to the re­port­ing of per­for­mance. Fur­ther­more, CAIA pro­vides com­pa­ra­ble data to the ICCA so that the South African chem­i­cal in­dus­try may be bench­marked against the per­for­mance of the rest of the world.

“This is also an im­por­tant el­e­ment of in­dus­try’s com­mit­ment to quan­ti­ta­tively demon­strate progress in its per­for­mance and chem­i­cal man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties which con­trib­utes to en­sur­ing the in­tegrity of the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive world­wide,” says Pen­fold.

“The chem­i­cal in­dus­try in South Africa is proud of the achieve­ments that have been re­alised through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Re­spon­si­ble Care ini­tia­tive over the last 20 years, but re­alises that they have com­mit­ted to an ini­tia­tive that is based on achiev­ing con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance im­prove­ments, while bal­anc­ing sus­tain­abil­ity and eco­nomic ob­jec­tives.

“This con­tin­u­ous ef­fort is a hall­mark of the ini­tia­tive that de­liv­ers im­prove­ment in all as­pects of the in­dus­try’s op­er­a­tions. Com­pa­nyand pub­lic-spe­cific ex­pec­ta­tions will shape the fu­ture of Re­spon­si­ble Care and so too will the in­creas­ing di­a­logue sur­round­ing sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and the con­tri­bu­tions and in­vest­ments that in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies will need to make so that progress is made in th­ese ar­eas.

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