Responsible Care Supplement: Pacopar wins 2005 award

25 November 2005 15:38  [Source: ICB]

For the first time Cefic has run a pan-European award competition.  The deserving winner was the 'Pacopar' initiative in Portugal

The desire by operators of the Estarreja chemicals complex in Portugal to improve relations with the local community led them in 2001 to create a multi-company community advisory panel (CAP), called Pacopar. It was to be the start of a successful communications programme under the Responsible Care umbrella and one that has played an important part in building increased confidence in the operations at the site.

This year, the efforts by the five companies involved in Pacopar – Air Liquide, AQP, Cires, Dow Chemical and Quimigal – have been judged unanimous winner of Cefic’s first pan-European Responsible Care Award, launched in 2004 as part of its effort to strengthen and revitalise the Responsible Care initiative across Europe.

The award was presented to the Pacopar team (which included representatives from the local community) at the Cefic annual meeting in Nice in October. The judges commented that the development of an innovative and effective outreach programme with the local community was ‘an outstanding example of good practice which could be used to motivate other companies and sites to follow their approach anywhere in Europe.’

The entry had, they added, a number of winning attributes, including the length and breadth of engagement, the fact that is was a multi-company effort and that ‘there are now clear signs of success in establishing and sharing a climate of mutual trust and confidence’.


The decision in 2001 to go ahead with an invitation to local selected stakeholders to create a shared forum for discussion has meant that many of the local leaders have the opportunity to be in regular direct contact with the top managers of the chemical companies. These include the local mayor, the chiefs of the fire brigade and local security corps, as well as healthcare professionals, teachers and heads of other commercial and industrial associations.

‘Membership of Pacopar has allowed them to raise questions, ask for information, and make comments to those responsible for the chemical plants and receive answers directly from them, as well as commitments in regard to matters under discussion,’ say the winning companies. ‘This free and open debate, together with visits to the plants and observation of emergency drills has played an important role in increasing confidence amongst the community.’


Early initiatives had largely failed to improve the situation prior to 2000, so the companies set about forming Pacopar with a concerted, systematic approach to create an identity in which the industry would ‘speak with one voice and listen at the same time and on the same frequency’. It decided on a step-wise implementation and identified the industry’s capability to deal with an emergency response as the first priority to tackle.

At this stage, and with the forum already set up, the companies decided an a few basic working rules: quarterly meetings of the forum would be held, in locations that alternated between on site and off site; each company would run the secretariat for a two-year period, and the moderator/facilitator of each panel meeting should be someone from outside the companies, with recognised authority.

It was also decided that the initial membership of Pacopar would be widened over time to encompass more and more local representatives. Thus, from the initial panel of mayor, fire brigade and security services involved in developing the emergency response structure, Pacopar has added local school representatives, local commerce and industry associations, and the sanitary authority.

The success of the process can be assessed, says Pacopar, by the fact that there is ‘more and more receptivity to organising activities between industry and community institutions’.

In the following we offer a glimpse of the variety and scope of the other 25 award entries received from nine countries
Team work reaps rewards

With a challenging accident target set for 2004, Schering Plough Bray in Ireland focused efforts on the poorest performing area of the site, setting up a dedicated accident reduction team. Main issues were prioritised using a ‘most impact, least effort’ matrix, and together with buy-in from the shop floor this ensured impressive health and safety performance improvements. The team also took an effective reporting tool – the ‘safety comment’ system recording all unsafe acts, conditions and near misses – and applied it company-wide. The overall exercise, which can be applied to any company or process, has contributed to real improvement in health and safety performance and awareness, as well as improved employee morale. The company has also seen clear business benefits, not least from cost savings in terms of medical follow-ups and lost time illnesses.

Further details: Margaret Dooley. E-mail:

Innovation brings advantages

Roche Ireland hails innovation as the only way to continue to meet the needs of a growing population without causing environmental damage – as demonstrated in a project to re-engineer a pharmaceutical production process based on its HS&E impacts. The project also exemplifies Roche’s Responsible Care strategy to reduce the potential for safety incidents and reduce exposure to harmful substances. Roche amalgamated two previously separate processes for mycophenolic acid purification and mycophenolate mofetil production. The resulting changes led to a reduction of waste and organic solvent usage, improved yields, and reduction in the number of risk exposure points. It was a win:win situation in terms of bringing environmental, safety, production and financial advantages.

Further details: Billy O’Shea. E-mail:

Sounds like a good idea

Ashland Belgium has developed a new way of treating microbiological growth in water systems using ultrasound thereby eliminating the potential hazards associated with handling and use of chemical biocides. Recirculating cooling water systems are used in many industrial processes, and conditions mean microorganisms can thrive, causing slimes that result in blockages and corrosion. They also offer the potential for growth of the bacteria that cause Legionnaires Disease. Sonoxide technology uses low power, high frequency ultrasonic sound to alter the environment in which bacterial cells can multiply, thereby creating a series of alterations within bacterial and algae cells resulting in their death. Ashland describes the system as a ‘truly environmentally friendly alternative for effective microbiological control.’

Further details: Marc Feyen. E-mail:

Transforming hydrocarbon waste

Belgium’s WOS Hautrage has developed an innovative technology with the flexibility to treat all types of liquid hydrocarbon waste and produce a range of finished oil and fuel products including biodiesel. The cracking process generates gases, which are reused, thus making the process eco-efficient and sustainable. The company exercises a rigorous safety, health and environment policy as part of its Responsible Care activities.

Further details: Paola Chabrol. E-mail:

When employees make a real difference

A company’s own workforce can be an invaluable source of ideas for performance improvement. Under ExxonMobil’s workforce suggestion scheme, its Meerhout Polymers plant in Belgium implemented a number of ideas involving simple, low cost changes resulting in a steam consumption reduction of 6.6 tonne/hr, and saving the company over E500 000/year. In a separate initiative, employees implemented ideas that reduced energy consumption and led to a significant drop in both emissions to air and the risk of test bin fires.

Further details: Peter Matthys. E-mail:

A question of behaviour

Strong management sponsorship and widespread workforce involvement helped ensure the success of this safety programme at ExxonMobil’s Antwerp Polymers plant. The company’s Safety Excellence Programme (SEP) involves analysis of past incidents and near misses and workforce interviews to identify root causes of at risk behaviours and behaviours which contribute to avoiding accidents. A dedicated team took on the task, using humour to get across messages in a poster campaign and developing effective, practical tools and activities to eliminate the root causes and encourage safe behaviours.

A high-profile launch to the programme was followed by four 3-day workshops to train 100 key people; 31 SEP trainers then ran one-day workshops for 500 employees and contractors.

Further details: Jan Naets. E-mail:

Cleaner air

Cytec Surface Specialties’ Schoonaarde plant in Belgium supplies acrylates for the production of Radcure resins used in quick-dry applications. The process involves reacting a polyol with acrylic acid in a solvent medium. The company opted for an unconventional but effective method for treatment of solvent emissions to air, resulting in an overall reduction from 1140g/hr to just 18g/hr (against a legal limit of 3000g/hr). Cytec was the first to install this kind of air treatment unit on an industrial scale and the supplier has visited the plant with potential customers. Employee health and safety, and yields have also improved since the unit’s installation; energy costs are down; and costs will be recouped within three years. It was the highlight of an open door event held for plant neighbours in 2003.

Further details: Piet de Raedt. Tel: +32 52 432828

Making a dramatic difference

Latex foam manufacture needs large quantities of high quality water for the production process and steam supply. Dutch producer Latexco based in Tielt sought to improve on its end-of-pipe solution for the treatment and recovery of wastewater containing latex. Its choice – evaporation – has enabled a 45% reduction in demand for high quality water, recovery of ammonia, reuse of waste sludge, minimal energy consumption, no emissions to air, reduced CO2 emissions and a big reduction in raw materials consumption. In addition, these environmental benefits have translated into a series of economic and social benefits, from improved working conditions to major reductions in waste loads and environmental levies.

Further details: Tom Depoortere. E-mail:

A personal approach

With a presence in Rosignano since 1912, Solvay Italia recognises the importance of good communication with its neighbours. The company has put in place a series of initiatives to familiarise the community better with its plant, promote dialogue with a diverse range of stakeholders, and cooperate with local organisations. The Rosignano Solvay site is piloting social responsibility reporting for the group, which has further focused its engagement with the community. It has published sustainability reports since 2002. A periodic survey measures workforce satisfaction and identifies key areas for performance improvement.

Further details: Bruno Grassi. E-mail:

An all-round approach

Health, safety, environment, stakeholder engagement and product stewardship – all elements that DSM Capua in Italy seeks to ensure are driven by continuous improvement under the principles of Responsible Care. At the core of its safety focus, for example, is STOP – a Safety Training Observation Programme, which combined with other initiatives has resulted in over 2300 injury-free days at the site. The holistic approach extends to reputation management: the DSM Capua site has been identified by the local authorities for its safety achievements and events organised to enable the company to share experience with other industries.

Further details: Carlo Mariani. E-mail:

Implementation as a joint commitment

Bayer Industry Services’ entry illustrates the benefits of working with ones peers. Nearly 20 companies – including non-Bayer businesses – participate in the annual Responsible Care campaign at the Leverkusen Chemical Park under a joint initiative. A detailed Responsible Care intranet site in both English and German supports communications and is accessible to all the partners. Good examples are shared, with a contact name for follow up. The partnership approach has been in place since 2000 and each year, a particular campaign theme is selected. Competitions with prizes get people involved and motivated, and a dedicated ‘campaign day’ included displays illustrating Responsible Care implementation for employees, their families and the local community. In 2004 efforts focused on conserving resources.

Further details: Birgit Sewekow. E-mail:

LCD recycling at Merck

Liquid crystal displays are produced in ever-increasing numbers, and currently the most common legal disposal method is to landfill. Recent legislation such as the EU directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) requires the future reuse, recovery or recycling of LCDs, but the problem has been a lack of an economic or ecological recovery process until now. Roughly 85% of an LCD panel is glass, the balance being polymers and the sealed liquid crystal mixture. Merck in Frankfurt, Germany, has carried out successful trials using both high temperature incineration and metallurgy processes that achieve recovery rates of around 99%. Even though Merck is only involved in producing a minor part of the LCD – the liquid crystal – it has committed itself to an approach that offers an environmentally sound way to deal with the final product.

Further details: Roland Martin. E-mail:

Every drop counts

At its Stade complex in Germany, Dow Chemical produces 1.4m tonne/year of chlorine, with over half used to produce propylene oxide. The primary resources for these processes are 30m m3/year of river water taken from the Elbe and 5m tonne/year of salt. Under its Responsible Care activities, Dow sought to conserve these resources, improve environmental performance and reduce operational costs. It has achieved a world first with development and implementation of a closed loop process for brine, chlorine and PO production. The project resulted in conservation of 7m m3/year of river water and 600 000 tonne/year of salt and a 23% reduction of annual salt discharge and of total organic carbon discharge to river Elbe; with E500 000/year savings in waste water fees. Moreover, the E3.3m project costs were recovered by pay back of wastewater fees after approval by the authorities in early 2004.

Further details: Danuta Oses. E-mail:

Zeroing in on contractors

Standing for Optimal Partnership, OptiPart is a strategy developed to better integrate Dow Chemical and its contractor companies. OptiPart provides for a team with representatives from the eight main contractors at Stade, Germany as well as from Dow. The OptiPart Charter sought ‘visible improvements for both contractors and Dow in the areas of safety, technology, quality and cost,’ with introduction of: dialogue as equal partners, continuous feedback between partners, confidential handling of sensitive information, and frequent dialogue about progress on improvement proposals.

In just two years, the benefits are clear: improvements in turnarounds, communications; less waiting times; take-up of contractor improvement proposals; and less need for retraining. OptiPart has also helped Dow Stade progress towards the company’s global ‘vision of zero’ incidents, injuries, illnesses, accidents and zero environmental harm.

Further details: Danuta Oses. E-mail:

Follow the Torch

As part of celebrations to mark its centenary, DSM introduced ‘Follow the Torch’ as a means to inspire employees to put forward ideas to improve the world around them. The Dutch company also provides the time and the money to enable them to realise the project. Seen as a way for employees to put their talents and knowledge to good use outside the company, the Torch programme is aligned with responsibility, one of DSM’s four brand values. A variety of communications channels are important and link both internal and external stakeholders. Via the sustainability pages on the DSM website visitors can read about projects that have already been completed – from cleaning up a forest in Saltillo City, Mexico, to helping asylum seekers integrate with their local community in Puth, the Netherlands.

Further details Dani Meyer. E-mail:

High Specs for software tool

Elementis Specialties, Delden, the Netherlands developed a software tool to manage substance and product information relating to the Dutch water permitting requirements, the EU’s Reach legislation, and labeling and environmental requirements. It enables users to define existing data gaps, identify related costs and generate reports. A valuable tool in helping chemical firms carry out effective product stewardship, it has been made available free of charge to all member companies of the Dutch chemicals association VNCI.

Further details JW Postma. E-mail:

In a class of their own

Chemical companies Arkema Vlissingen, Broomchemie, Dow Benelux, Eastman Chemical Middelburg, Thermphos International and Yara Sluiskil joined forces with other Dutch organisations and the local authorities to work on this project, which sought to integrate sustainable entrepreneurship with company strategy. A key activity is the so-called Master Class Corporate Social Responsibility, developed in collaboration with local authorities in Zeeland and Dutch chemicals association VNCI. The VNCI is using the project as a pilot for the whole industry. The Master Class has resulted in development of a useful tool to help the chemical industry shape its CSR agenda and established a valuable company network.

Further details R de Ruiter. E-mail:

Putting CSR into practice

Solvay Pharmaceuticals submitted a selection of examples to demonstrate its CSR activities, both internal and external. Local residents were consulted on a new building project at the Olst site in the Netherlands, and their objections resulted in various modifications. Local residents were kept informed of coming activities via a weekly progress letter. Solvay also took up suggestions to landscape the site. It is working closely with the local authority on plans to enhance the local river valley and is relocating its car park to enable creation of a cycle path and water recreation activities.

Solvay also highlighted a world first in a new technique for sterile filling of hypodermic syringes, which saves energy and reduces solvent emissions. In another project, the company has made substantial savings in syringe packaging material and energy costs.

Further details - E-mail:

Minimising environmental impact

DuPont has made significant strides to prevent emissions of its Suva refrigerants during the entire product lifecycle – from production, through to use and disposal. This has involved efforts at the Dordrecht production site in the Netherlands, plus working with the logistics chain and customers. The main issue is to minimise air emissions that contribute to global warming and represent a financial loss. A package of measures included recovery of residual gases from the storage and mixing tanks and emission-free sampling; recovery of residual contents of containers used for shipment; emission-free unloading of bulk shipments to customers; and replacing incineration with take-back of used product and cleaning for recycling. This product stewardship initiative not only makes financial sense, but benefits the environment with a reduction of 60 000 tonne of CO2 equivalent in terms of greenhouse gases, involves distributors and customers, and improves health and safety by reducing worker exposure to product during loading and unloading.

Further details H Benjamins. E-mail:

A double opportunity

A dedicated group of employees at Engelhard’s De Meern plant in the Netherlands realised that proper control of wastewater quality created an opportunity for productivity savings. Several wastewater streams combined into one stream leaving the plant to the sewer. This wastewater was purified and analysed three times a day in order to meet compliance with local permits. The change required moving from a reactive analysis to proactive monitoring before water leaves the site and disconnecting the wastewater streams from the plant to avoid unplanned shutdowns. Online analytical equipment alerts operators if emissions are detected and enables the affected stream to be disconnected and relayed to emergency storage. Additional changes have resulted in further benefits such as heat recovery from wastewater; storage and use of rainwater, and saving on water costs; and lower sewer taxes. Combined savings of around E320 000 have been achieved and the learnings are being shared with other sites.

Further details J T Eras. E-mail:

A novel experience sharing

The procedures involved in obtaining any kind of certification require specialist knowledge, money, time and human resources. As one of Poland’s largest chemical companies, Zaklady Azotowe Kedzierzyn (ZAK) at Kedzierzyn-Kozle is familiar with those procedures. But it is less easy for others, particularly not-for-profit organisations. When ‘Promyczek’, a local welfare centre for disabled children, applied for certification to raise and enhance its profile as a provider of a safe environment for these children, ZAK decided to share its certification experience with the centre. Thus began an innovative partnership whereby chemical company employees acted as consultants and advisors to help the centre obtain its management certificate. Over a four-month period, this involved ensuring quality, safety and environmental protection criteria were met, assisting with document preparation, carrying out risk assessment, and conducting workshops prior to the audit. In addition, ZAK helped negotiate a discount for the centre from the certification body.

Further details Izabella Maria Turza. E-mail:

Building community relations

Turkish soda ash and chromium chemicals manufacturer Soda Sanayii acknowledges that innovation did not have a lot to do with its entry, but stressed the successful of its ‘conventional Responsible Care approach.’ It has used Responsible Care to focus its outreach efforts on the local community as well as improving health, safety and environment activities. Over the past few years the company has developed a wide ranging and effective community awareness programme which has cemented relations with neighbours and raised awareness of Responsible Care.

Further details Faruk Sander. E-mail:

Practical approach to safety

Steam cracking furnace tubes require periodic replacement, involving a lot of manual work in difficult locations with restricted access. Historically, the process has often involved injuries to employees and contractors. At ExxonMobil’s Fife ethylene plant in Scotland, small teams were set up for the latest retube to carry out detailed risk assessments of all the tasks to be undertaken. The causes of unsafe behaviours were identified and steps taken to remove them, involving a number of equipment innovations. The result was 17 000 hours worked without any safety incidents and reduction in downtime of several days compared to previous retubes. Involvement of the workforce in analysing and improving their work environment with real attention to detail was key to success.

Further details Dirk Jan Hartgerink. E-mail:


Special mentions for CyPlus and PharmaVision

During the final assessment, the judges singled out two entries for a special mention of commendation.


German company CyPlus, a fully owned subsidiary of the Degussa Group, has developed a strong product stewardship and responsible management programme for cyanides throughout the entire supply chain. The judges regarded this submission as ‘a super example of product stewardship,’ and it was acclaimed for its rigour in ‘looking at everything from cradle to grave’.

CyPlus supplies cyanides, technologies and services to the mining, chemical, pharmaceutical and surface treatment sectors. Cyanides are highly toxic and require very careful handling at all stages of the logistics chain from production, storage and shipping to use and subsequent disposal. CyPlus shares its valuable experience and knowledge through various initiatives, including a major contribution to an important report by the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (Ecetoc).

Key aspects of the CyPlus approach for cyanides include:

* Intensive training and motivation of workers worldwide to ensure safe handling

* Development and implementation of model solutions to ensure compliance with safety and organizational requirements for safe handling

* Activities to raise public awareness of safe handling

* Active support for substitution by less toxic substances in the worldwide gold mining industry

Further details: Andreas Rubo. E-mail:


PharmaVision, based in Istanbul, Turkey, supplies contract manufacturing services to the pharmaceutical industry. Working on a ‘people first’ principle, the company has a strong focus on society and stakeholders in balance with the environment. The workforce, business partners and clients, neighbouring companies, and NGOs were involved in a scheme to collect and sort recyclable waste – not just from the workplace, but also domestic waste. As well as reducing the burden on the environment, PharmaVision identified the project it would fund with money raised from the recycling effort: building a school in the Duzce region which suffered badly in the devastating 1999 earthquake. The school opened in 2001, with additional facilities added between 2002 and 2004. It has around 300 pupils aged between 6 and 14 years.

The judges described the company’s activities as ‘inspirational’. The project was liked for the way it highlighted very different aspects of Responsible Care – pollution prevention and outreach – and because it required strong employee involvement and commitment. It was also commended as a demonstration of industry putting something back into society.

Further details: Unsal Hekiman. E-mail:

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