BASF and IVAX singled out in 2006 Awards

18 December 2006 00:00  [Source: ICB]

In the second year of Cefic's pan-European Responsible Care Award competition, two companies were singled out for special commendation by an independent panel of judges.

BASF received acclaim for its Expert Services Sustainability (ESS) initiative, which involves a progressive and innovative approach to promoting Responsible Care throughout the value chain.

The ESS - covering 12 subjects, including topics such as waste management, energy, emergency response, eco-efficiency analysis and safety - was commended for its strengths in product stewardship, business value, and internal and external networking. Since its launch in 2005, BASF has completed around 100 ESS projects for customers, and regards it as "an important tool that helps our customers contribute to the Responsible Care initiative."

The company also notes that ESS, with its focus on sustainability and the value chain, is helping BASF to fulfill its commitment to the Responsible Care Global Charter. The initiative has also enabled the company to better understand its customers' needs, as well as providing new market opportunities.

The judges were impressed by a case study demonstrating a response by business unit and ESS staff to helping a customer in southeast Asia improve its health, safety and environmental performance. While in the short term, it reduced the quantity of product sold to that customer, it gave BASF a long-term competitive advantage when renegotiating supply contracts. e_SClBIVAX DETAILED how the company set out to address an "unacceptable" accident rate within the Solid Dose Packing Hall at the Waterford site. The judges decided its comprehensive approach to the challenge was underpinned by excellent communications and exemplary staff involvement, enabling a dramatic improvement in the unit's health and safety performance.

Teams were set up to identify key issues and implement practical and workable long-term solutions. A multi-faceted approach included:

  • hazard identification and risk assessments, regular health and safety inspections and audits, and reporting of hazards and near misses
  • improving the working environment and workplace layout
  • improving health and safety communication and employee awareness
  • continuously measuring and displaying health and safety performance.

As well as dramatic reductions in the accident rate, this approach enabled an improvement in working conditions and operations, increased employee involvement in health and safety, better understanding of issues, and improved morale. Lost work days in the Solid Dose Packing area were slashed from 63 in 2003 to just five in 2005.  Lost time accidents were cut from 17 in 2003 to two in 2005.

The judges felt unable to identify a clear winner among the 20 entries from 10 countries received in 2006.  The following summaries of the other award entries offer a glimpse of Responsible Care activities undertaken by companies across Europe.
Careful planning pays

The award entry from Borealis Kallo, Belgium, detailed how this international company is addressing the complex issue of climate change. 

From 2002, increasing emphasis on the EU's emissions trading initiative, energy saving and Kyoto sparked Borealis into developing a group-wide project. The company detailed "the 10 phases to carbon maturity" - from "emerging awareness" through identifying key people to participate, planning, organising and auditing, to being operational with a new Energy Council in place.

Borealis introduced key performance indicators (KPI) to monitor progress in energy efficiency throughout the organisation. Starting in 2006, these KPIs are monitored monthly and analysed to define improvement actions.

The company has successfully introduced CO2 emissions trading and associated processes, such as voluntary agreements with the authorities, as well as reduced CO2 emissions and energy consumption. Borealis is also applying important principles to prepare for the introduction of Reach: allowing sufficient time to be fully prepared provide plenty of resources involve the whole organisation.

Responsible Marketing

Metal-based fuel additives are widely used to improve performance, particularly in diesel engines but also in domestic heating oil and marine fuels. Infineum Italia manufactures and markets one such product. The company has responded to concerns raised by independent studies about the potential impact of metallic fuel additives in vehicle emissions on health and the environment by implementing a policy restricting sales of Infineum M7450 for diesel fuel application.

During 2005, Infineum declined to ­participate in the bidding process to ­supply customers with metal-based additives for diesel fuels, and advised those customers of the associated potential hazards. It will only do business when product is to be used in cars equipped with catalytic filters to remove particulate matter. The company is also developing metal-free alternatives.

While there is no legislation or government restrictions on the use of these products in diesel fuel, Infineum decided to take a responsible approach, balancing the loss of market share and business against the longer-term outcome of helping oil and automotive markets to improve the environment.

Green light for fire brigade

Improving the response time to incidents at Degussa's Kalscheuren site in Cologne, Germany, was a key factor in the decision to apply for formal accreditation of the company's fire brigade. Without accreditation, the team's main remit was to guide the municipal fire brigade to incidents during an emergency. Accreditation enables the company to respond directly to any incidents.

The fire brigade is staffed by16 officers and 69 fire fighters, all operating alongside their "real" jobs in the site's technical, production, quality control and safety departments. At least one officer and eight firefighters are on site at all times, 365 days a year. Prior to accreditation the members of the fire brigade underwent a rigorous training programme, while officers attended special courses. In all around 2,000 hours went on training education, and around three years after the initial discussions began, the official accreditation ceremony for the Degussa Kalscheuren fire brigade took place in 2005.

Reducing waste streams

SAFC Pharma in Arklow, Ireland, carried out a detailed waste analysis at its site, and set up a project team to identify opportunities to eliminate or reduce waste across six areas: production, transport, waiting, inventory, motion spills and processing.

Over-production was eliminated by improving the stock control system on site and enabled quantities of raw material, methanol, to be kept to a minimum. Better segregation after use enabled quality improvement, increased the potential for re-use, reduced the time spent on analysis of the material and led to improved inventory management. Sourcing of a new outlet for material for re-use closer to the site saved on fuel, energy consumption and transport costs. And addressing the motion spills issue resulted in a reduced risk of accidents and spills, thereby reducing the potential impact on the environment.

SAFC applied Responsible Care up and down its supply chain, selecting a potential customer for methanol that demonstrated good environmental management practices.

Champions for the environment

A worldwide Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) project, Champions for the Environment aims to improve the environmental awareness in the communities where it operates, with employees working voluntarily in the community.

MSD at Ardfinnan, Ireland, has participated in the scheme over the past six years. The latest scheme resulted in an award of €5,000 to Ardfinnan National School for its Happy Habitat project, an integrated plan linking local organisations to the school, enabling 190 pupils and several MSD employees to become involved in development of the school. The grant will be used to introduce a recycling and composting corner, timber bird boxes, a school garden and outdoor concert area.

World-class environmental management

Ten years of world-class environmental management was celebrated in submission from Novartis Ringaskiddy in Ireland. In 1995 the company selected the European Eco-Management and Audit System, Emas, to meet its requirements to be certifiable, transparent, consistent with Responsible Care, and one that would commit it to doing the "slightly impossible" in terms of environmental performance.

Its Site Environment Committee implements the work associated with Emas and shares all actions with employees. Novartis says: "One key unquantifiable benefit is that a momentum for continuous environmental improvement has been embedded at all levels in the company."

Simple but effective energy project

Swiss-owned Helsinn Birex Pharmaceuticals implemented an energy-efficiency project at its plant in Dublin, Ireland, involving relatively simple but effective measures including:

  • Upgrade of the air compressors
  • Phasing in of energy efficient lights into the warehouse
  • Introduction of efficiency devices
  • Review of boiler usage
  • Employee training and information.

As well as improving energy efficiency, the programme aimed to promote energy awareness within the workforce. Equipment and lights were often left on unnecessarily, but significant improvements were registered after a series of talks and new signage was posted around the plant. Employees also learned how simple measures could be implemented to make real savings in their homes.

Opening communication channels

Pfizer Ireland was instrumental in setting up an Industry/Community Liaison Committee in the Ringaskiddy area of Ireland. The company initially discussed the idea with the local residents association, which was fully supportive. Local industry was then consulted, and a majority were happy to take the plan forward. The committee has been set up with four members of the residents association and eight industry representatives, and meets every two months.

Its aims are to safeguard and enhance the environment of the Ringaskiddy area now and in the future to provide a forum for communication between local residents and various industries in the area and to address as far as possible environmental, social and economic issues of concern.

Resource efficiency and cost management

Astellas Ireland Co Ltd (AICL) implements an environmental management system to achieve continuous performance improvement. By identifying interactions with the environment and the significant risks, the company uses the information to set objectives and targets for day-to-day management and control.

AICL also focuses on ensuring efficient use of energy and water resources. Waste minimisation and recycling efforts have reduced waste sent to landfill by over 60%. This has been cost-effective because of the considerable hikes in waste disposal charges. AICL views environmental management as synonymous with good business management.

Every department has an energy representative. They create awareness of energy efficiency and work with safety representatives on risk assessments and auditing. AICL has also committed to extend environmental and safety awareness to the local community, engaging with 20 schools with an art competition and related activities focused on these issues.

Engaging with stakeholders

Italian synthetic fibres producer Radici Group places high priority on social responsibility - caring for its employees and communities. The company's annual social report communicates its values and ethics to all stakeholders, and is regarded as an important part of Radici's aims to "build a collaborative culture." The latest report represents the input - opinions, ideas, values and expectations - of the many employees from all parts of the business who contributed to its preparation. An annual responsible care questionnaire is completed by every site manager, and provides key data for the social report as well as enabling Radici to set improvement targets for areas such as occupational injuries, emissions, and production of waste. The people in charge of quality system management, human resources, training and communities, as well as business managers, also make important contributions to the report.

A disciplined approach to safety

To improve the safety performance of the many companies operating as contractors at Dow's Terneuzen site in the Netherlands, the company established a formal cooperation - Associated Dow Partners, or ADP - in 2000. But, by 2004, improvements had stagnated and results were lagging behind the ambitious 2005 environment, health & safety targets set by Dow a decade before. These targets called for a 90% reduction in personal accidents over the period, and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accident frequency of 0.24 (per 200,000 hours worked). At Terneuzen, the 1994 OSHA accident frequency level was 1.73 for Dow but stood at 3.72 for contractor employees.

To meet the challenge, a "discipline-based safety approach" was introduced whereby contractors jointly developed safety policies based on their own expertise, involving formation of cross-company teams addressing issues including scaffolding, industrial cleaning, coating, cranes etc. Each team identified at least three annual targets, resulting in safety improvements within that particular discipline.

The new approach enabled the 2005 safety target to be met with the record low accident frequency score of 0.14 - and represented the first time contractors had ever matched the Dow employee safety rate.

Ground-breaking permitting project

Working with the Dutch government and local authorities, a group of companies on a site with more than 50 production plants obtained a single environmental permit in 2005. The Chemelot site permit project improved transparency with regard to the complex for local residents and authorities. It also gave a clear insight into the ongoing environmental impact of the site as a whole, as well as future developments. It also gave a single, clear point of contact on environmental issues.

With only one environmental, safety, contingency plan and environmental plan needed, instead of individual reports from each company on the site, Chemelot companies have set a precedent with a project that involved establishing organisational ties between the different companies and setting up a legal umbrella entity with strong powers in respect of the development and implementation of a joint environmental and safety policy. The 17 legal entities at the site are all shareholders.

Responsible Care on show in Poland

The largest environmental protection trade fair in Central and Eastern Europe, Poleko 2005 in Poland, provided the platform for seven Responsible Care companies and the national association to join forces on showcasing Environmentally Friendly Chemistry. It provided an accessible way to engage with more than 21,000 people, with groups including authorities, schools, and families visiting the fair.

The aim of the project was to breakdown the stereotypical images of chemistry, using a competitive game to "educate" participants. The joint exhibition and related competition promoted the Responsible Care ethic and "green" behaviour encouraged people to improve their knowledge of chemistry and the environment, and aimed to spark interest in extending that knowledge. The chemical industry's role in everyday life was exhibited in different ways at different stands.

As well as the positive feedback, the group was delighted to receive the National Fund for Environmental Protection President's Award for the best environmental education activity of Poleko 2005. As a result, the Environment Ministry and the Fund will support future educational activities of Responsible Care companies in Poland.

A way of working together

The challenge for Akzo Nobel Surface Chemistry at Stenungsund, Sweden, was how to make its Responsible Care activities visible while, at the same time, ensuring that they were well integrated with daily work patterns. The project was carried out in two phases - first, the company focused on strengthening understanding of what Responsible Care and product stewardship meant to employees in their daily work, and documented this on the intranet.

Self-assessment by each department - including research and developement, purchasing, marketing and sales - with support from Responsible Care specialists, enabled the creation of action plans to fill identified gaps. Extensive "education" sessions were held at departmental and individual level to ensure that everyone understood how their daily work contributed to Akzo Nobel's commitment to continuous health and safety and environmental improvement. Customers and distributors have also been involved.

The second step came as a natural extension of Akzo Nobel's approach of having one web-based management system. The SimplyRight project involved development of a management system at business unit level. It was successfully verified according to the requirements of Responsible Care by Det Norske Veritas in February 2006.

Air monitoring initiative

The project submitted by Turkey's Petkim Petrochemical set out to meet regulatory requirements, but was subsequently developed into a more sophisticated exercise involving the company in the Webair initiative. The initiative is part of the EU's Eureka project. Webair builds a web-based real-time multi-media information and decision support systems for air quality assessment and management. It integrates on-line monitoring and modelling, in support of relevant European directives. Petkim supplies measurements for stack gas emissions and ambient air quality to the system, a move which supports preparations for Turkey's eventual entry into the EU.

Extending product stewardship

Huntsman Polyurethanes' Wilton, UK, site aims to ensure good awareness among all those associated with the safe use and handling of its products. Training and awareness of employees, customers and suppliers is viewed as critical.

For example, having identified that suppliers were not passing down information to their employees, Huntsman produced an information video, giving details about the potential hazards of handling polyurethane intermediate, corrosive chemicals, and the decontamination process and procedures to follow if people come into contact with the products. The video had an excellent response from suppliers and customers. Among other initiatives, Huntsman conducts external audits of suppliers, promoting best practice sharing.

Leading-edge wastewater treatment

In a five-year period, Wyeth Newbridge implemented a wastewater treatment project valued at around €20m. While the project was originally undertaken to meet regulated levels of activated pharmaceutical ingredients discharged to sewers, the outcomes resulted in benefits that went beyond compliance. The project involved selection of new and novel technologies in the context of their use in pharmaceutical applications. Additional benefits included: effluent of sufficiently high quality to be suitable for reuse in the facility cooling water system further reductions in water consumption by re-using effluent for ­cleaning purposes a reduction in the quantity of hazardous waste sent for off site treatment, and reuse of building extract air in aeration tanks.

Growing community outreach

Over the past few years Responsible Care has been an important driver in helping companies in Israel reach out to their communities. The chemical industry is concentrated in the Negev desert region and joined forces with a leading Israeli NGO, Sustainable Negev, to set up community advisory panels (CAPs). By the middle of 2006, nine CAPs had been established. The industry's outreach project has been praised by NGOs, government, key industrialists and the media.

The Bromine Compounds panel was established first, and has been operating for more than a year. The plant manager and Responsible Care coordinator meet with representatives from the Society for the Protection of Nature, and neighbouring communities. The meetings are run by an independent facilitator and attended by observers from the national chemicals federation and Sustainable Negev.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.

Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.

Printer Friendly