20 May 2002 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Akzo Nobel started the implementation of a company-wide product stewardship initiative in 2000, launching a number of pilot projects in carefully selected business units.
These pilots identified three key influencing factors when developing a product stewardship approach: the degree of pressure from environmentalists; flexibility in product composition; and the competitive advantage to be gained.
The positive results that emerged from the projects led to a directive to involve the whole organisation, and all Akzo Nobel business units have to develop a product stewardship management system by 2003.
Ultimately, product stewardship is all about manufacturers taking on more responsibility for reducing the health and environmental impacts of their products and packaging. It is an incentive to redesign products with fewer hazardous materials,so they are more durable, reusable and recyclable. In the end, therefore, everyone benefits – the customers and employees, the environment and the businesses themselves, says the company.
Akzo Nobel’s Industrial Finishes business unit is based in the US. Strict laws of compliance already exist there, alongside the business unit’s commitment to the Coatings Care initiative – the paint industry's version of Responsible Care. So it was really a question of merging the new product stewardship system with the existing set-up.
‘The approach before our directive came out was to try to integrate safety and environmental management and Coatings Care and regulatory compliance, all in one management system,’ explains Industrial Finishes’ manufacturing and engineering services manager Peter Scolaro.
‘When the directive was issued, we did a gap analysis and found areas that we needed to expand, such as the role of our customer interface and our sales and customer service people.’
The business unit deals in two main areas – industrial wood coatings for building products and furniture, and coil markets – selling mostly to manufacturers as opposed to the consumer market.
‘One of the elements of our stewardship is to make people aware that these are not consumer products,’ said Scolaro.‘ A lot of what we have to do is making the customer aware of what they ’re dealing with ensuring they put the right facilities in place and use our materials properly.’
As far as Industrial Finishes is concerned, the new directive is very much a case of refiniing the systems it already has in place.
‘A lot of our business is based in the US and as such we have to make the compliance issue a very predominant consideration,’ adds Scolaro.
‘What we do beyond the law is try to create what we call tools to assist. For example, for our sales guys we have a list of dos and don’ts and this helps them to recognise a situation and understand what their role is versus when they need to call in help from the laboratory or the health and safety department.
‘So we have a three-pronged approach to stewardship: we have the role of health and safety, the roles of the technical and service area, and the roles of the laboratory defined separately, but all integrated into one programme.
‘The other thing that we have to consider in our business is that a big company such as Akzo Nobel has state-of-the-art products we are willing to offer that are “greener ” let ’s say, than the those products already being sold. But they may have different properties, they may be slightly more expensive, and the market may not always be ready to accept them. So we have to work to make the goals of the market and our goals coincide. But sometimes in the competitive world it doesn ’t happen as quickly as you want it to.’
BASF uses many different raw materials for manufacturing its products. These range from sulphur to precious metals to sugar. Last year, the company bought around 2600 different raw materials with a total value of over Euro8.8m ($7.9m). In addition to price, quality and availability, BASF also takes the principle of Responsible Care very seriously when it comes to purchasing. ‘If companies want to sell to us they must comply with our Responsible Care criteria regarding chemical production,’ says Roland Merger at BASF’s raw materials purchasing department.
Before a purchase, each raw material is rated in a safety matrix, according to its toxicological and environmental properties.
Potential suppliers are then categorised according to the country in which they operate. The reason for this is that ‘some non-OECD countries have chemical laws but, unfortunately, compliance with these laws is not always monitored carefully enough,’ says Merger.
If a product is classifi ed as dangerous, all possible suppliers are subjected to thorough checks, which can include inspection of the production plant. Each plant is then evaluated according to a fixed set of safety and environmental criteria. These include, for example, the safe handling of chemical substances, quality controls or waste-water treatment. A company is only accepted as a supplier if it meets every criteria. Merger says: ‘We try to convince our suppliers that the maintenance of high standards represents a real competitive advantage.’
Purchasing is becoming increasingly international. Today BASF obtains 15%of its raw materials from Asia and South America. This will increase significantly in future as a result of the company ’s large foreign investment projects. BASF also ensures that its suppliers fulfil social policy within the framework of the United Nation’s Global Compact initiative. BASF is a founder member of the programme, which is designed to promote institutional learning and disseminate good practices.
Contact: Vladimir Masek
Tel:+420 35 616 3970
On 29 January 2002 at 5pm, operators a Chemopetrol were informed about a road accident involving a tanker loaded with 21 tonne of ethylene. The accident had occurred in Hungary on an express highway between Györ and Budapest. Urgent assistance, including a call for a professional, well-equipped rescue team, was requested. With permission from the Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian authorities, the Chemopetrol emergency fire brigade unit, which includes seven firemen and two technicians, responded to the call and reached the accident site at 7am the following day.
Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian police helped to speed the rescue team to the incident, as did the passing of customs formalities, and the prompt appointment of a Hungarian-Czech interpreter. The traffic on the express highway was stopped in both directions just after the accident. The tanker tractor was destroyed, but neither of the two drivers was seriously injured.
The tanker was off -road on its side. The insulation was impaired, but neither the tanker vessel, nor its fittings, were damaged. When Chemopetrol took over the emergency response work, no leakage of ethylene from the vessel, which was under pressure of 2.8bar,was detected. The ethylene was forced out of the tanker into a reserve unit using pressurised nitrogen. Some evaporated ethylene was incinerated in a mobile emergency burner. When the level of ethylene was below the nozzle of the emptying hose, the tanker was lifted by two heavy cranes and put back on the road in its normal position. It was then completely emptied and depressurised. Of the total 21 tonne of transported ethylene,18 tonne was transferred into the reserve tanker and three tonne was incinerated.
After 30 hours the express highway was reopened and the Chemopetrol team returned home. The Hungarian administration expressed gratitude to Chemopetrol’s chief executive and rescue unit for the efficient emergency work.
As the Czech Republic’s chemical major, Chemopetrol coordinates the country’s centre for voluntary information and support for transport emergencies (TRINS)in Litvínov. TRINS is part of Cefic’s International Chemical Environment initiative, which aims to implement Responsible Care in chemical distribution. The Litvínov centre and 28 regional units work with the fire brigade as part of the Czech Integrated Rescue System. It also coordinates with other national centres abroad – the Czech system was set up in 1996 with assistance from Germany.
The Czech chemical association SCHP, says greater trust and a better reputation have resulted from closer cooperation between the chemical industry and rescue units. An agreement between the two was extended by five years last summer. SCHP adds that the recent intervention of the Chemopetrol rescue unit in Hungary could support efforts to extend the activities into other central eastern European countries.
It points out that east-west-east transit of dangerous chemicals is set to increase as the European Union enlarges.
Ciba Specialty Chemicals
Ciba Specialty Chemicals is one of the first companies to use a new tool that measures natural resource usage and emissions against gross profit. Introducing the new measure in the 2001 Environmental, Health and Safety report, chairman and chief executive Armin Meyer said the company was looking for a tool that allows innovation and creativity in the value-added portion of its operations, while simultaneously measuring the efficiency of natural resource usageand emissions.
The company has reported data comparing total energy usage, water usage and emissions of the important greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, against gross profit – the difference between sales and costs of goods sold (which includes raw material, energy and water costs). By measuring this data over time, ‘we should be able to tell whether we are becoming more economically and ecologically efficient in our use of natural resources,’ says Meyer. ‘In addition, we will be able to measure the value we add in our production processes,’ he adds.
Ciba’s senior environmental expert Peter Naish, says the company analyses the figures from around the world each year, and publishes them in its annual results. The reported data show steady improvement for the gross profit comparison since 1997 – with a 17%drop in energy use,a 26% reduction in water use, and a 12%cut in carbon dioxide emissions.
Naish says Ciba is one of the first companies to use this measurement tool, which was proposed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as a way of showing the sustainable performance of a company.
For now, the company plans to publish the figures on a corporate basis only. Naish says: ‘At the moment, as this tool is such a new approach, we want to gauge reaction to it before using it on a broader basis. However, there are undoubtedly opportunities to use it in a number of ways in the future, for example, as a benchmarking tool to compare a company with others in similar industries.’ He believes that it is too early to say whether the new tool will feature in Ciba’s health, safety and environment targets in the future.
Under the current set, which runs to the end of 2003 and is tagged ‘0-10-10’, the company seeks to attain zero lost time accidents, reduction of absolute energy usage by 10%,and have 10% better material use efficiency.
Degussa ’s Lülsdorf site in Germany participates in a project called Sun, which aims to help integrate the subject of sustainability into the curriculum at local high schools. The company says: ‘Only those who know all the aspects of sustainability and understand how these aspects can affect one another, can act in a sustainable manner.’
Sun stands for Schulen und Unternehmen für Nachhaltigkeit or schools and companies supporting sustainability. It operates in the Bonn and Rhein-Sieg region and was launched at the end of last year. The aim of the project is to promote communication and cooperation between schools and companies, to structure the lessons dealing with sustainability in a practical way, and to encourage pupils to take a constructive look at the region ’s economy.
The Lülsdorf project, which involves the final grade of the local junior high school, started in February. One project day per week involves the participation of employees at the site.
As a concrete example for the pupils, the Lülsdorf site demonstrates the production of potash, which is manufactured in combination with other products. The pupils observe the entire potash production process from the input of raw materials to the finished product, including energy supply, waste water, disposal and emissions into the air.
In addition, the lessons address what happens when demand changes for a certain product in the integrated production system, illustrating how this effects the profitability of the process and the job market. The content of the project for the Lülsdorf senior high school is being developed for launch in the next school year.
Sun was initiated by Runde 2000 plus, an organisation involving local companies working towards sustainable development in the Bonn and Rhein-Sieg region.
More than 200 primary school children carried out science experiments with Dow Corning employees as part of National Science Week in the UK. Wearing safety gear, including aprons, gloves and glasses, the students investigated the properties of mould-making silicone rubber and tested their samples against the customer’s specifications. The rubber is similar to that manufactured at Dow Corning’s plant at Barry, Wales, UK,and is used by customers for high-precision moulds.
Around 30 Dow Corning employees took time out to help the youngsters with their work. For many of the children, the experience is the first time they have ever met ‘real ’ scientists and engineers.
Dow Corning says that everyone who comes to the day finds that science can be fun after all. One pupil who attended a session at Dow Corning ’s National Science Week programme said: ‘I ’m going to do science at secondary school. I want to be a scientist when I grow up.’
Dow Corning says the programme reinforces classroom learning and offers teachers new ways to relate science to everyday applications. Using the skills developed in school,the experiments require the children to measure, analyse and assess what they are doing. The experiments are designed by Dow Corning in-house and are linked to the UK national teaching programme.
National Science Week is a focal point of the company ’s educational links programme supporting learning opportunities for local school children. The programme forms part of the Responsible Care initiative for the company and the site has found that promoting science and industry to young people is a good way to link with the younger side of the local community.
In 2001,more than 200 European nominations were received for ExxonMobil Chemical ’s Responsible Care competition. The nominations came from sites, individuals and teams, representing all levels and areas of business within the company. They encompassed safety, pollution prevention, health, community awareness and product stewardship. The company says the nominations highlighted the ingenuity, creativity, determination and exemplary management of individuals and teams within its workforce. After making a number of very difficult decisions, the jury fi nally made 23 awards for initiatives that are now being shared as best practices worldwide.
The Maintenance Area 2 team at the Rotterdam, Netherlands, aromatics plant received a team award of merit for a range of simple improvements within its working environment. The changes made things easier, more environmentally friendly, and safer.
For example, to meet its ‘no oil to sewer ’ objective, the team installed an oil separator on the base plate of each compressor and pump. Lubrication oil and small product spills are collected in the separator while clean water, including rainwater, runs out to the sewer system. Many of the team’s initiatives can be transferred to other sites.
Rudi Persoons and Marc Verdijck of the Antwerp, Belgium, polymers plant received a team best achievement award for their innovative work on the development of superior working procedures for scaffolders. The pair developed an improved safety hook enabling scaffolders to use fall protection at all times. The team members visited several sites to identify best practices and developed their findings into a comprehensive set of procedures, which has been reviewed by the company ’s European Safety Coordinators Network and is being adopted region wide.
ExxonMobil Chemical says it is commited to improvements. In Europe, the company has reduced emissions and hazardous waste as a percentage of production by 70% since 1990. Its Total Recordable Incident Rate has dropped 50%since 1995,and the rate for contractors has dropped 75%.
The Human and Environmental Risk Assessment (Hera) of household cleaning product ingredients is a voluntary initiative of Cefic and the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE).The aims of the initiative are to provide a common targeted risk assessment framework for the household cleaning products industry, to deliver safety information on ingredients in an effective and transparent way.
The concept was developed before the EU announced plans to revise its chemicals policy through the White Paper: A strategy for future chemicals policy, but Hera project manager Jan Backmann,hopes that the process will provide a basis for emerging EU legislation.‘ The key to Hera is the collaboration between manufacturers of chemicals and downstream users, including manufacturers of detergent and cleaning products, who cooperate by providing the resource and data necessary to carry out risk assessments.
AISE member companies provide detailed exposure data and all participants provide their available data,’ says Backmann.
To date, the methodology for risk assessments has been published and the Hera risk assessments completed on the fluorescent whitening agent-5 (FWA-5), builder zeolite A, and sodium carbonate, along with the environmental risk assessment of the alkyl sulphate (AS) surfactant family. During 2002, a further 14 risk assessments will be published, covering 70%of the total tonnage of chemicals used in household laundry detergents.
The work is being carried out by task forces and substances teams. For each ingredient, the main manufacturer or user takes the lead, with support from AISE and Cefic companies. The outcome is a consensus between both the producers and downstream users of the substance. The completed risk assessments have been managed by Ciba Specialty Chemical (FWA 5), Henkel (Zeolite A) and Shell Chemicals (AS).
External stakeholder consultation is the key, says Backmann. Consultations will continue with outside stakeholders following on from a workshop in October 2001, which was attended by 50 people from academia, EU authorities, consumer and environmental non-governmental organisations and industry. Here the overall scientific approach of Hera was well received. In addition, stakeholders recommended that the risk assessments be made available in consumer-friendly language. A second phase of the Hera project will include more substances.
Henkel says the key to sustainability is innovation. By working with customers and plant manufacturers, it aims to offer ‘intelligent service ’ with solutions that go beyond the sale of products. The company’s aim is to produce safe, ecologically compatible, and easy-to-use products using efficient processes.
Henkel cites several examples. These include adhesives that can be used to stick labels on returnable bottles. The company says that no matter how firmly they adhere to a bottle, the labels come off quickly in cleaning baths and leave no residues. Henkel is aiming to control the bonding power of adhesives so that it can be effectively switched off. It says this will be particularly useful in the recycling of composite materials.
In other fields, the company has developed a solvent-free wrapping system for polyvinyl chloride (PVC)window profiles. Henkel says there is increasing demand for decoratively wrapped plastic window frames.
Traditionally, this process used dichloromethane and an estimated 2400 tonne/year of the chlorinated solvent was released to the atmosphere. Henkel Dorus worked with customers machine makers and the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, to develop a solvent-free wrapping system, based on a hotmelt adhesive and an aqueous activator.
It has also developed a system to improve paint recycling in car production. The company says when car bodies are sprayed using conventional processes, around one third of the paint misses its target. Usually this residual paint is recovered by flushing it out of the spray booth with the help of organic solvents. Together with Ford, Henkel has developed a process based on biodegradable, environmentally compatible polymers and surfactants. This reduces the burden on the environment as solvent containing wastes are no longer generated, while also reducing paint use by 5-10%. All of Ford ’s European production sites have converted to the new method and other automobile manufacturers have expressed interest.
Last September, Merck Colombia received the ‘Environmental Excellence for Sustainable Development’ award from the District Environmental Administration of Bogotá. The award was in recognition of the company’s environmental management, based on Merck’s Excellence programme.
Managers at Merck Colombia have implemented specific projects to improve waste and emissions control. These projects include: systems for identifying and recording waste water, and new waste water disposal controls; and a programme aiming to avoid and reduce wastes. The last project focuses on systems and processes generating less or no waste, and involves employees, suppliers and customers.
In addition to these projects, Merck Colombia collaborates on an ongoing basis with the local authorities. It actively participates in a committee of nine companies, which has been formed to improve mutual aid and collaborate with municipal authorities in the drafting of safety, health and environmental protection programmes. The company also works with the municipal emergency services to develop instructions for the population relating to correct emergency procedures. It also provides information to pupils and teachers at the local school.
The Millennium Chemicals titanium dioxide pigment plant has been an integral part of Thann in Alsace, France, geographically, economically, and socially, since it was established there nearly 200 years ago.
Millennium, which shares the site with Albermarle Chemicals, has been actively implementing the French chemical industry association’s Responsible Care programme, Engagement du Progres,and Millennium’s own ‘One Global Standard of Excellence for Responsible Care.’ An important part of these activities is community awareness and emergency response.
To further these activities Millennium has supported the updating and distribution of an emergency awareness information leaflet. The information tells residents about the warning signals used to alert the community to various levels of emergencies. It also lists the steps that need to be taken in an emergencies. The leaflet was developed by the regional industry association with important input from its chemical industry members, in collaboration with the regional government of Alsace.
A copy of the information leaflet was presented to the Mayor of Thann by the Millennium Chemicals site director and manager of process safety, and two representatives from Albermarle Chemicals. The mayor initiated a programme of distributing the leafl et to residents of the community. He also stressed the importance of having the leaflet readily accessible in each home.
A community-wide meeting was called by the mayor to emphasise the value of this information.
Also, to support the further improvement of its emergency response capabilities, two new sirens have been installed at Thann. These will be tested regularly each month.
Millennium’s Thann plant has maintained an ongoing positive relationship with local emergency responders and an open dialogue with its neighbours.
The warm smiles that greet Jorge Texeira’s familiar white pick-up truck at the village of Serra south of Luanda, Angola, reflect the genuine goodwill generated by a programme managed by Norsk Hydro. Norsk Hydro and Angolan state oil company Sonangol jointly run the Quenguela Agri-Industrial Project, which supports the development of local people and farmers by providing educational, technical and financial assistance, seeds and fertilisers, and,most importantly, water. The project aims for long-term agricultural and industrial sustainability in the Quenguela area.
‘The target of the programme is to change present subsistence farming into production for the market. This will certainly improve their living standards,’ comments Texeira, himself Angolan and coordinator of the project.
To ensure a reliable supply of quality water to the region’s 20 000 rural inhabitants, 11 new water wells have been drilled. Nine functioning wells currently supply up to 87 000 litre/hour of water at several strategic sites. Future plans call for seven new wells and a broader network of water pipelines and outlets.
A Quenguela water bottling, marketing and distribution operation targeting Luanda may eventually be built to pay for the water supply system.
The agricultural projects planned for implementation include fertiliser and seed bagging, storage and distribution enterprises; education, technical assistance and a credit system for locals. Phase two of the project may include reforestation and model farm programmes.
Industrial projects include a cattle slaughterhouse; meat packing, storage and distribution operations; a vegetable and fruit packing and distribution unit; and a chicken feed facility.
Hydro has been cooperating with a Danish non-governmental organisation to train six teachers for a rural community education programme and has funded their establishment in the area.
Tel:+34 91 348 8100
Repsol Química signed up to Responsible Care in 1992. Since then the company has been involved in activities in Spain, as well as in other countries where it has installations.
There is active participation in the promotion and management of Responsible Care activities within Feique, the Spanish chemicals association. The company has a representative on Feique’s Permanent Commission, overseeing Responsible Care, and also has representatives in every one of the other working groups.
As for the activities within Repsol YPF’s Chemical Division, there is a team covering each one of the initiatives codes. They are responsible for the promotion and implementation of practices within the division. The teams are involved in the environmental and safety management system that is inspired by, and contains all the Responsible Care principles.
A number of achievements relating to the implementation of Responsible Care stand out within Repsol, says total quality, safety and environment manager Jesús Baeza. These include: the implementation of a company-wide management system, the completion of annual plans for improvement of environmental and safety management, strategic plans in environment and safety covering actions and investments in a five- year programme, and the development of a complete system of indicators to monitor the results achieved both in internal procedures, as well as the end results.
The indicators that monitor accidents demonstrate great improvement, says Baeza. For example, following the Accident Frequency Index, a progressive reduction of 56% during the period 1997-2001 –or 14% each year – was achieved.
Rhodia Electronics & Catalysis, based in La Rochelle, France, recently inaugurated a new production unit for an additive to control pollution from diesel-powered vehicles. The additive was developed in a venture with Peugeot Citroën, which already uses it in some of its car models. Tests show the technology reconciles diesel engines with environmental protection, says Rhodia. Initial durability test results were impressive: more than 99.9% of the particles were eliminated from the exhaust emissions. As a result,10 000 times fewer particles are released com- pared with vehicles not fitted with the technology. According to European regulations, the measurements represent the release of 0.001g of particles/km covered – much better than the level required by legislation due to come into force in Europe in 2005.
Rhodia chairman and chief executive Jean-Pierre Tirouflet says the project is proof of successful partnership and a commitment to sustainable development. As well as working closely with the car manufacturers, close links were forged with China – a huge potential market for the additive. At the facility’s opening, Tirouflet said: ‘This inauguration testifies that our industry is striving to reduce pollution by helping to equip the cleanest diesel engines ever produced for the mass market. It confirms the global scope of the economic activities of our group and the favoured relationships we want to maintain both with China and with our local partners: elected representatives, institutional representatives, and academics’ The additive is approved for use in Europe, where the potential market is 4m units/year.
Shell Chemicals is active in promoting health and safety with its customers. Examples of this include its ethylene oxide product stewardship programme.
During 2001, presentations detailing information such as the hazards associated with and the safe handling of ethylene oxide were given to customers at their sites, backed up with safety audits and information packs. This is continuing throughout 2002 in the UK and will be extended to all ethylene oxide customers across Europe.
Visits to customers are made on a three- year rolling plan. In addition to this, Shell Chemicals is working on a training package for hauliers to use in-house. It already carries out training sessions for road vehicle drivers in Europe in line with Cefic’s Distribution Guidelines.
‘The prime focus of Uniqema’s business is not to supply chemicals, or to manufacture chemicals or even to devise new chemicals,’ says the company’s technical, operations and sustainability director Colin Harrison. ‘It is in business to create advantages for its customers. Everything else is a means to this end. At Uniqema, we don ’t pursue science for its own sake. Our aim is to develop technologies that are relevant to the future needs of our customers.’
For example, Harrison says Uniqema worked with customers in the oilfield chemicals sector to develop an environmentally friendly range of drilling fluids. The prod-ucts are based on sustainable raw materials and are alternatives to aromatic solvents traditionally used as carrier fluids in oil drilling. Based on benzoate ester chemistry, the products have equivalent solvency to aromatic solvents, are biodegradable, do not bioaccumulate, and have low aquatic toxicity.
‘The concept for the product was developed by first talking to our customers in the oilfield chemical market to define their ideal requirements in terms of performance, environmental profile, and the physical and chemical properties of the product,’ says Harrison.
‘We then searched a variety of chemical databases, and with our knowledge of chemical science and technology, identified a number of candidates for preliminary screening. The chemistry finally selected for development needed to have a viable process and sustainable raw material availability. It also had to fit with our process capability, and regulatory clearance was desirable. Our relationship with the marketplace facilitated field trials, and the smooth transition to commercialisation,’ he adds.
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