14 April 2003 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Product Stewardship is an essential element of business development at Avecia Biocides Protection and Hygiene operations. Terry Yeates, antimicrobial effects bus-iness manager, and Chris Eacott, Responsible Care manager, say: It is apparent that customer needs, and hence company capabilities, go beyond just the technical functionality provided by a given product. To build sustainable competitive advantage, Yeates says companies have to meet the changing needs of customers to provide products and service profitably.
'Within the antimicrobial effects development activities of Avecia's Protection and Hygiene business, it has become apparent that aspects of toxicology and regulatory affairs have taken on increasing, and indeed pivotal, importance,' he adds. 'As a result, the strength of our business is dependent on product stewardship and the application of risk assessments.
'The positive business impact derived from our product stewardship capabilities, and specifically our competencies around risk assessments, can be illustrated by the following example,' says Yeates.
A key element of the company's business growth strategy is increasing the sales of established active ingredients to multinationals within the household and personal products sector. In all cases, progress from 'concept proving' to product development and new sales, is based on the company's ability to support customers on human health risk assessment and management issues. For these companies and their development of value-added consumer products, the risk to their brand is too high to take chances with human health safety.
CWS Lackfabrik produces a range of polymers, binders and powder coatings. It employs 250 people at sites in Germany and the US. In 2000, the company won the annual labour union award, Stiftung Arbeit und Umwelt, which was launched in 1993 to recognise environmental excellence – it is the first labour union environmental donation in Europe.
The award was in recognition of CWS’s implementation of Responsible Care principles into the daily activities of all the company’s staff. The award was accepted by Hans-Joachim Güttler, CWS company manager (middle) and Heinz Herzog, responsible for quality, environment and workers’ safety (left). CWS has been involved in Responsible Care since it was introduced by the Germany chemical association – Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI) in 1993. It was particularly interested in the opportunity to integrate sustainability aspects into new management systems for quality, environment and workers safety – and these aspects were discussed within the company’s works council. To gain ideas and improve internal communications, staff information hours were held. This resulted in a high acceptance of Responsible Care among the company’s employees.
Since then, the company has achieved EMAS certification, and had its integrated management system validated to EMAS II and certified to ISO 14001 and 9001:2000.
Herzog says installation and practice of the integrated management system for quality, environmental protection, product stewardship, employee health and safety, process safety, distribution safety and communications have led to many benefits. Since 1994, emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) have been reduced by over 60%, dust output has fallen by nearly 70%, and worker accidents are down by 50%. Since 1999, carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by about 10% or 300 tonne/year.
Herzog says customers and authorities are also impressed with Responsible Care. ‘Responsible Care is an attitude of people and not naturally a management system. Nevertheless, CWS made good efforts to integrate all the activities in a management system in order to classify its meaning.’ He says that internal and external communication is the key. ‘We will continue to work in this direction to optimise our activities in all aspects – the Stiftung Arbeit und Umwelt award is motivating and helps CWS to go further this way.’
At the end of 2002, Dow Corning completed, one year ahead of schedule, an undertaking given to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) in 1999 to have Responsible Care ‘practice in place’ as a corporation and be operating to the codes worldwide. Dow Corning made its initial commitment to the Responsible Care initiative as a member of the ACC in 1989 and made good progress in implementing the codes at facilities in Australia, the UK, Japan, as well as the US.
But in 1997 the company decided to go one stage further and work to adopt a globally consistent standard of expectation across all the codes, Since Dow Corning has more than 40 manufacturing and customer service centres, it says this was a significant achievement – particularly since in some countries Responsible Care is not a well-known programme.
To take Responsible Care worldwide – Dow Corning has manufacturing plants in Wales, the US, China, Germany, Belgium, Japan, and Korea – the company adopted a management system approach for every code of Responsible Care. This was in line with a business process philosophy the company was implementing in other areas such as finance, customer ordering and human resources.
Amongst the actions taken to introduce the management system approach, Dow Corning set up teams of code stewards globally. Their role was to set the standards expected, coach sites on how to implement the codes, and support the audit process. The company also reworked the codes into a management system framework – in many cases this meant going further than the code requirements laid down by ACC. The management system was tailored to recognise the different nature of operations at manufacturing sites, versus sales offices. The company also trained sites on how to use the system, conducted audits, reviewed progress, and established self assessment tools to enable sites to monitor their own progress.
One benefit of this strategy is that managers at all locations clearly understand the company’s expectations and have a mechanism that allows them to check progress and continuously improve. It has led to external recognition – in Korea, for example, Dow Corning is regularly asked to advise other companies how to implement their own programme.
Dow Corning’s global chief product steward and risk manager, Keith Huckle says the approach has also had several business benefits, especially through the product stewardship and distribution elements, which have improved customer partnerships and loyalty. ‘Our commercial staff that deal with customers offer a broader range of services and can get closer to the customer,’ he says. ‘We have found customers come back to us, and we have been able to develop sustained partnerships from what could be viewed as poor situations’, he adds
More broadly, Huckle says the company’s knowledge and expertise in this area also supports a business strategy of offering more options and choices for customers. Dow Corning announced it was making its environment, health, and safety (EH&S) and analytical testing services available to companies, regardless of whether they buy products. Services offered include toxicology, environmental, and chemistry testing and consulting; chemical and product inventory registration assistance; product compliance reviews; material safety data sheet development; and support implementing EH&S software into SAP’s enterprise resource planning systems. ‘The efforts we have put into Responsible Care and environment, health and safety, are now providing a springboard for future business development,’ says Huckle.
Looking to the future, Dow Corning is developing long-range HSE targets and a sustainability strategy, which will be founded on the philosophy of Responsible Care.
At ExxonMobil, no aspect of work receives greater attention than safety, says the company. ExxonMobil has a simple, straightforward global goal ‘Nobody Gets Hurt’.
‘We want a work environment in which nobody gets hurt. Through daily attention to safety in all we do, from management to the shop floor, the improvements of the past ten years lead us to visualise an accident-free environment and that’s what we are striving to achieve,’ says Peter Peschak, president, ExxonMobil Chemical Europe.
The company’s annual Awards for Excellence in Responsible Care recognises exceptional achievements by ExxonMobil Chemical employees across Europe. The programme demonstrates the company’s dedication to Responsible Care principles and to accomplishing them through its employees.
Each year prizewinners are selected from amongst a broad number of entries received across Europe. In 2002, a project management team based at Fawley and Fife, in the UK, received an award for extending best practice in safety management to a diverse contractor workforce. The team standardised safety programmes on all project work, which included: peer-on-peer safety audits for contractor technicians; human factor-based safety excellence initiatives, including job-start safety talks and personal safety plans; wider use of near-miss reporting; upgraded weekly reviews of HSE performance with contractors.
Since starting the programme, contractors at the Fawley and Fife plants have only had three recordable injuries over a 30-month period.
Another example of an award-winning safety initiative comes from a team of operators at the company’s polypropylene specialties plant in France. The team was recognised for its implementation of a safer way to clean raw material hoppers. Between each production batch, the raw material hoppers that feed the mixing screw must be cleaned. This used to be done by a technician climbing onto the pipes above the mixing screw to extract surplus material with a vacuum cleaner. The vacuumed material had to be disposed of as waste. The team developed an automated solution eliminating this job entirely and enabled them to reclaim the material that previously was sent to waste.
In Italy, 166 companies, representing about 45% of the turnover of the overall chemical industry, commit to a Responsible Care programme managed by industry association Federchimica.
On 3-4 December 2002, Federchimica organised its annual Responsible Care conference on the subject Sustainable Development and New Company Responsibilities. The aim of the conference was to inform Responsible Care coordinators about the recent changes in sustainable development and to supply tools to improve HSE performance inside their enterprises.
During the meeting, politicians, public authority officers, and company managers, exchanged their opinions and experiences on sustainability. In particular, during the first day, discussion focused on Corporate Social Responsibility, the Kyoto Protocol and energy management, and Responsible Care implementation worldwide. Edward Clarence Smith, cleaner production and environmental manager at UNIDO, focused on buyers’ pressure on companies to implement Corporate Social Responsibility; José Maria Bach, chairperson of Responsible Care at Cefic, showed how through the development of Responsible Care in Europe, the chemical industry moved in the direction of sustainability; proving the efficacy of voluntary agreements. Erwin von deer Meer, senior advisor at the Dutch chemical organisation VNCI, gave examples of Dutch experience. Jurgen Scheftlein, of the European Commission’s DG Enterprise, also gave a presentation on Corporate Social Responsibility.
Some of the presentations underline critical aspects linked to relationships among public authorities, the chemical industry and citizens: an interview published by Cefic highlights how the public look with suspicion at the chemical industry, probably because they perceive chemical processes and products as hazardous. On the other hand people recognise the role of chemicals to better everyday life and the effort of the chemical industry to improve HSE performance and standards.
Federchimica’s eighth annual Responsible Care report testifies the positive HSE performance of chemical industry. For example, SO emissions in air decreased in 2001 to 6% of 1989 levels. In the same period, nitrogen emissions to water were reduced by 63%, the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate, expressed by the number of lost time injuries per million working hours decreased by 55%. Moreover, Responsible Care companies make more efficient use of resources. During 2001, about 42% of hazardous waste was recycled and only 8% was set to landfill.
Although lost time injury rates are down, safety inside chemical sites is a key issue.
Henkel’s director corporate sustainability management Michael Bahn, says the only sensible and effective way of implementing sustainable development is systematically. ‘Henkel uses integrated management systems based on globally uniform sustainability standards,’ he says. The implementation of the group-wide standards is regularly checked through internal audits – in 2002, 43 sites were audited. Henkel companies also have their management systems externally certified. At the end of 2002, 72 production sites had been certified to the international ISO 14001 environmental management standard.
Bahn says: ‘We consider it especially important to maintain a dialogue with all stakeholder groups.’ Key to this effort is the company’s sustainability channel on the Internet (www.sd.henkel.com), where it publishes environmental data on emissions, wastes, wastewater and resource consumption, as well as reports on occupational accidents and incidents, transport accidents, and ongoing improvement measures.
Henkel says its employee Code of Conduct is of vital importance, as the general public is showing a growing interest in how international enterprises do businesses. The conduct of each single Henkel employee reflects on the reputation of the company as a whole, says Adelheid Klahold, vice president human resources. The objective for 2003 is to anchor the Code of Conduct even more firmly in Henkel’s corporate culture, by including it in the employment contracts for all managerial staff, for instance, and by ensuring 100% distribution among all employees – especially those of newly acquired companies.
The Code was introduced in 2000 and defines clear corporate rules of conduct for day-to-day dealings with customers, employees, shareholders, competitors, the communities Henkel operates in, and society in general. The aspects covered range from meeting customer needs to developing employees, as well as mutual respect, personal integrity, and open communication .
PVC has been under intense and hostile attack for a number of years, primarily because of its association with chlorine chemistry. It has been argued by some that the plastic is inherently unsustainable, although much of this argument has been emotionally driven rather than based upon scientific scrutiny. The presence of chlorine imparts a range of unique technical features in PVC that set it apart from many other polymers. A number of these features are well known and documented, and perhaps this uniqueness makes it a fascinating polymer to study in terms of its potential for sustainability, says Hydro. It is durable in use and difficult to break down. This persistence has made it a target by some campaigners, yet this could arguably be one of its greatest strengths from a sustainability perspective, says the company.
Hydro Polymers is currently incorporating sustainability into its business activities through a systems-based framework process known as The Natural Step (TNS). The TNS framework is a robust and science-based set of tools that define sustainability in unambiguous and workable terms and helps organisations engage with the practicalities of sustainable development.
The Natural Step (TNS) organisation was established in Sweden in the late 1980s as a means for tackling the difficulties facing society. Karl-Henrik Robért, a leading Swedish cancer expert, in cooperation with physicist Dr John Holmberg, and a network of other scientists from many disciplines elaborated the principles. TNS is now an international charity based in nine countries including: Sweden, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and Israel.
TNS has worked with a wide range of major companies to help them address their sustainability challenges, however, working with Hydro Polymers was the first time the TNS process had been used in depth to evaluate a single material from a sustainability perspective, rather than to aid a company in using a wide range of different materials to become more sustainable.
The TNS process for Hydro Polymers began in 2001 with workshops in the UK, Norway and Sweden facilitated by Robért. A key development in the process was the publication of a report by TNS scientists entitled PVC: An Evaluation using the Natural Step Framework. The report identified five key challenges as key criteria to achieve full sustainability in PVC. These challenges have now been integrated into the Hydro Polymers strategic development plan.
Challenge No 5 requires Hydro Polymers to commit to raising of awareness about sustainable development across the industry, and the inclusion of all participants in the achievement. This challenge is of fundamental importance in supporting the other challenges.
The European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers’ (ECVM) Vinyl 2010 process is the beginning of such a strategy, uniting the European PVC Industry from raw materials suppliers to end customers. However, this does not prevent pioneers from within the industry innovating their own novel solutions to existing challenges ahead of the game. One of the recommendations from the TNS report was to increasingly engage in an awareness campaign so that all those directly involved understand what sustainability means in practice, and can participate in the process.
ICI Paints identified an internal business need for a clearer understanding and communication of what product stewardship means and what it can deliver. A brochure, Product Stewardship – What’s it all about was produced during 2002. It is being distributed throughout the global business, with templates for local language and product adaptations. Externally, ICI Paints is using the brochure for customers and the general public. Within the business, the publication will help in the continuous improvement of product stewardship measurement and self-assessment scores.
In keeping with ICI’s sustainability objectives, ICI Paints has developed a new paint that uses cornstarch in place of traditional oil-based materials. Its scientists had been concerned that two critical features of decorative paints would not be adequate in a starch-based product: coverage and ‘scrub-ability’, where the paint remains unscratched after scrubbing it clean. To their surprise, the new paint provides good coverage and ‘scrub-ability’ superior to traditional decorative paints.
Meanwhile, ICI Paints North America has a number of product stewardship projects including: The development and production of non-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints; solvent-free heavy-duty epoxy coatings; the labelling of paint products for hazards and precautionary measures; and the development of partnerships with provincial governments across Canada, to help identify environmentally and economically effective approaches to leftover consumer paint disposal.
To develop a clear understanding of the issues involved in the co-existence between the chemical industry and the local community, and to work together on initiatives for mutual benefit, a Community Liaison Panel was set up in Stallingborough, UK, in January 2001. The panel includes community representatives, an independent facilitator and chemical companies: BOC, Cray Valley Polymers, Millennium Chemicals and Synthomer.
Through the panel emergency advice information has been published and distributed. Although UK legislation implementing the Seveso II Directive requires such information to be given to only one household in the area, the panel decided to go further and give information to the broader community.
The visit to the school was led by Neil Finley, safety health and environment manager at Millennium Chemicals, on behalf of the panel, and Paul Gilbert, a Millennium employee, member of the Parish Council and vice chairman of the school governing body. A short video was presented and a brief discussion with the pupils was held around the key message of ‘Go In, Stay In, Tune In’. The pupils were invited to enter a colouring competition on that theme.
Finley returned to the school to award prizes to the pupils. He commented: ‘The children gave me their full attention during the initial visit and were absolutely clear about the different steps to take in a fire or chemical incident. I was very impressed by their maturity and their grasp of the key messages.’
Contact: Adrian Hanrahan, sales and marketing
Tel:+44 121 553 2451
As part of an overall business strategy of continuous improvement and in support of its ISO 14001 and Responsible Care goals, UK speciality chemical manufacturer, Robinson Brothers has been revisiting the products that it has made for some years to see if a fresh approach can improve process economics. The company has found that improvements are possible, sometimes dramatically so, and that these gains translate into a more sustainable business.
The mechanism the company uses to scrutinise all of its products, both old and new, is called Process Improvement Groups (PIGs). These are multifunctional, self-starting (and ending), self-motivating teams involving operators, engineers, chemists, HSE, production management, quality assessment/quality control, research and development, information technology, and purchasing – depending on individual products and problems.
‘Over the last few years the PIGs have learnt to question the status quo and exert their power to initiate and manage projects to improve quality, output, efficiency, operability, environmental impact, and safety/ health,’ says Brian Murphy, Robinson Brothers’ managing director. ‘They have been successful with existing chemicals and for the introduction of new products and processes. They have also helped to change the company culture.’
A recent example was with a chemical intermediate that Robinson has made for over 20 years, which is used in both early stage pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical synthesis.
Last year its PIG subjected the product to intense scrutiny. ‘Over a period of some months we successfully and radically altered both the process and the chemistry. No significant new capital investment was involved in the change, although equipment modification and reconfiguration was required,’ says Murphy.
‘We were able to reduce the overall time for completing the reaction sequence from 84 hours to around 50. At the same time we increased the yield, expressed as the percent of the main starting material in the final product, from 84% to 89%. The process changes allowed us to recycle around 50% of the effluent increasing yield and reducing environmental impact. The final aqueous waste from this process is still treated and discharged to sewer but in lower volumes and, because of its lower organic content, external treatment costs are lower,’ says Murphy.
‘We calculate that our energy savings per kilogram produced are over 35% due to this improved process and we have reduced both production cost and environmental burden as well. In the competitive markets we face these days we are resigned to the fact that these cost savings will, at best, be shared with our customers. At worst they will simply absorb the savings, and more. The environmental benefits at least will still remain!’
As part of Rohm and Haas’ commitment to Responsible Care and product stewardship, which focuses on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Development, the company’s Electronic Materials business in Shipley, UK, looked at the increasing volume of end-of-life electronics that are being consigned to landfill.
It is estimated that 50 000 tonne/year of end-of-life electronic scrap is produced in the UK. The limited availability of landfill, combined with the fact that only 15% of printed circuit boards (PCBs) are being recycled, has led to greater emphasis on more sustainable approaches.
The European Union’s Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which comes into effect in 2006, will require an increase in the recovery and recycling of materials found in scrap electronics. Currently, the only board waste recycled has an inherent value due to its precious metal content.
A study led by Martin Goosey and Rod Kellner, of Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials found that in the UK there is a lack of infrastructure and established methodologies to handle the recycling of PCBs and their components. The study investigated existing and potential technologies that could aid the recycling of PCBs. As yet, there is no single solution that is capable of handling all types of PCB scrap, but the technology is being developed and solutions do exist. There is a clear opportunity to establish and implement a PCB recycling capability in the UK before the WEEE directive comes into force.
The power of collaboration, both internally and externally, is the key to moving forward with sustainability, says Rohm and Haas. In 2002 Yves Vandenberghe of Rohm and Haas, and Emmanual Berthet of Prosign together conducted a life cycle assessment on acrylic water-based and solvent-based road-marking paint.
The study showed that 17 000 tonne/year of VOC release could be saved if all of western Europe used water-based, instead of solvent-based road-marking paints. This would result in almost 60 000 tonne/year less of CO being released into the atmosphere. Water-based road markings present a significantly better environmental balance sheet when compared to solvent-based paint and offer cost savings in handling waste, says Rohm and Haas.
According to Ivan Zika, of the Czech chemical association (SCHP CR), the experiences of other chemical associations, particularly German, Swiss and UK were used as the basis of the Czech Responsible Care programme. Almost all Czech chemical manufacturing member companies have committed to the principles of Responsible Care through ceo signature. Companies have set goals and reported HSE data trends – comparing them with results achieved by other EU countries.
Between 1994 and 2000, the Czech chemical industry rapidly decreased emissions and wastes, it established TRINS, a voluntary system in the Cefic-ICE framework, and member companies implemented environmental management systems.
Nevertheless, Zika says, the belief gradually prevailed, as it did for other Cefic Responsible Care members that the principle of the self-assessment of results and compliance with goals and objectives was not enough. As a result SCHP CR’s Responsible Care assessment group began working with labour unions, university deputies and environmental activists in a project called ChemFed, which aims to improve public confidence in the activities and reliability of the chemical industry.
SCHP R has learned that there is no advantage in publishing sophisticated assessment manuals – the association started with 24 criteria in 1996, based on the Swiss approach, and changed them for 36 new ones in 1999. It says results need to appear in a simple way and be available to wide range of public, including citizens close to chemical facilities, green opponents, and the authorities. Furthermore, Zika says information presented in glossy brochures seem to be just as likely to provoke suspicions and even detracts from the facts.
As a result, the Czech association began preparing at the end of 2001, a new Responsible Care guide – including safe handling of chemicals, security and prevention of crisis situations, dialogue with employees and external stakeholders, and efficient energy consumption. The Responsible Care appraisal procedure was rewritten. Ceos sign their company self-assessment and comments from employee representatives must be incorporated into a final document. This has to be made public, either on the Internet or as a bulletin or brochure for local or regional media. It also has to be sent to the relevant local authority.
Furthermore, the information has to be written in a way that the public and authorities can understand, with information on where and how to comment or ask for more details. Public comments received within a month are included in a final document, which is submitted to the SCHP R.
At SCHP R’s plenary meeting, its 15-strong assessment group checks the documents formally, discussing the good and adverse findings. The process results in broad experience exchange and benchmarking for all those taking part. The assessment group also recommends companies that can use the Responsible Care logo.
From the first year’s experience, Zika reports that the assessment procedure proved valuable for member companies. He adds that in the future the system will be more objective. Furthermore, the procedure does not prevent SCHP R from further moves towards third party verification in the future.
ICI’s global speciality chemical manufacturer, Uniqema works closely with its customers with the aim of creating innovative solutions. Apart from using renewable, natural raw materials Uniqema’s range of technologies allow customers to work in ways that promote sustainability, for example by increasing efficiency and reducing energy use.
Uniqema’s lubricants business pioneered the creation of lubricant materials that have allowed the replacement of chlorinated fluorocarbons (CFCs) by more environmentally acceptable hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. It has also addressed other environmental issues in the refrigeration market, including energy efficiency and noise reduction.
In the personal care market there is increasing consumer demand for renewable natural, or naturally derived ingredients, combined with improved product performance. Uniqema is developing technology that can bridge the performance gap between natural and high performing synthetic ingredients. An example is squalane that traditionally has been obtained from sharks’ liver. Uniqema’s moisturising squalane emollient is a high purity, natural ingredient that is derived from olive oil.
In crop protection Uniqema has developed adjuvant technologies based on surfactants to improve efficiency of use and effectiveness of application of sprayed pesticides. Adjuvants mean less pesticide has to be used as it improves the way pesticides spread on and penetrate leaf surfaces.
Thomas Swan & Co, a privately owned company, employing about 170 people manufacturing a wide range of performance and speciality chemicals, has worked its way up the certification ladder from ISO 9001 through ISO14001, EMAS and OHSAS18001. The next logical step, according to Dai Hayward, director and general manager, was to be certified to Responsible Care. ‘With all this certification in place and compliance with the law, why bother with this step?’ asks Hayward. ‘The simple answer lies in our reputation and licence to operate.’
In 1979 about 50% of the UK population had a favourable impression of the chemical industry, in 1985 this figure had dropped to 30% and in the most recent survey the figure further reduced to 25%. This means that there are a lot of people out there who do not trust the industry, says Hayward.
‘We are a small company situated close to housing and schools. People need to trust us and we need that trust to retain our licence to operate. This need goes beyond the local community. Our customers and other stakeholders including banks, insurance companies and regulatory agencies increasingly look for reassurance of that robust framework by which we operate.’
He adds: ‘It is our opinion that anything which can contribute to improving trust, credibility and image – based on a credible performance record – within the community and beyond has got to be worthwhile. Sound management systems go a long way towards gaining trust. After all we all use them to help in the day-to-day management of our businesses. But people want the hard evidence that we are doing what we said we would do. They want to see continuous improvement and they want it validated by someone else.
‘We cannot certify ourselves – history tells us that credibility is not enhanced by internal policing. It is not sufficient just to implement a Responsible Care Management System; it has to be maintained and has to deliver.’
Initial certification followed by regular surveillance by a third party can only help to keep our eyes on the ball and maintain the commitment, says Hayward. This has paid off for Thomas Swan. Following an incident in 1979, we were not trusted by our community, says Hayward. Today, after a series of independent surveys, the degree of trust by the local community stands at 72%.
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