18 December 2006 00:00 [Source: ICB]
In February 2006, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) launched the Responsible Care Global Charter at the United Nations-backed International Conference on Chemicals Management in Dubai.
The Charter extends the original elements of Responsible Care, which has been so successful over more than two decades in improving the chemical industry's health, safety and environmental performance. Now, through its nine key elements, the Charter focuses on new and important challenges facing the chemical industry and society in the 21st century. The Charter helps the industry address sustainable development, effective management of chemicals along the value chain, greater transparency, and increased global harmonisation and consistency among Responsible Care programmes around the world.
The ICCA played an active part, alongside governments and other stakeholders, in the various stages of negotiations on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), joining ministers and policy makers in discussions and leading finally to its formal adoption by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, in Dubai. During that meeting, at an industry side event, ICCA Council Secretary and Cefic Director General Alain Perroy described the Responsible Care Global Charter as "an important contribution of the industry to meeting the objectives of SAICM."
At the same event, Dr Nance Dicciani, President and CEO of Honeywell Specialty Materials, said: "The new Responsible Care Global Charter elevates the commitment of the more than 50 participating associations to protect the environment, health and safety of people worldwide and to meet the challenge from our stakeholders. We're implementing a number of new measures such as global performance data reporting and verification processes that go beyond self-assessment."
In Europe, there have already been clear moves towards achieving these aims, a path that began in earnest with the 2004 European Review of Responsible Care. The specific measures - performance reporting and verification - are by no means new to the region's federations. Indeed, Europe's chemical industry has played a leading role in the area of performance reporting since the first publication of Cefic's Guidelines on Environmental Reporting in 1998.
As for verification, the new Responsible Care management framework guidance has already been widely circulated, and by 2007 it will be rolled out across Europe. By the end of 2008 self-assessment of the implementation of that framework will begin. Self-assessment is now the absolute minimum form of verification that a company is required to make of its Responsible Care activities, with the aim being to move to an external assessment process. In addition, the management framework approach aims to fulfil another important goal - to provide increased harmonisation and consistency, together with improved performance for the initiative.
By the end of November, the heads of 25 European chemical federations, under the Cefic umbrella, had signed the Declaration of Support for the Charter all will sign in the near future. The Declaration sends out an important signal that it commits associations to a strengthened Responsible Care as set out in the Charter.
The European Review of Responsible Care, undertaken by Cefic, led to changes that are reflected in the Charter. The changes seek to enhance the partnership between the national associations and their member companies as they work together to continuously improve safety, health and environmental performance of their processes and products, make efficient use of resources, and work with others including customers and other stakeholders.
a) a set of core global performance measures
b) the move towards adopting a management system approach based on the elements of Plan-Do-Check-Act and
c) strengthening verification processes.
The Responsible Care Leadership Group (RCLG) has identified the initial set of three global performance indicators as worker safety, energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Charter aims to strengthen verification processes by offering national associations, that have not yet developed such processes, the means to go beyond self-assessment. This could be through options such as work carried out by associations or acceptance of verification by government bodies or through external organisations such as third-party auditors and assessors from other companies.
The ICCA's Global Product Strategy for the safe production, use and disposal of chemicals and chemical products was also launched in Dubai by Alain Perroy, Cefic's director general. The Strategy is designed to improve the global industry's product stewardship performance by recommending a broad range of voluntary industry actions including:
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