InterviewUS Dow's chem-safety plan features outside panel

14 May 2009 20:44  [Source: ICIS news]

By Will Beacham

LONDON (ICIS news)--US major Dow Chemical plans to implement a chemical-safety-assessment programme, under which an outside panel will review the company's methodologies, an executive said on Thursday.

The company wants to introduce a system of assessing products in which the public can have real confidence, said David Keplar, Dow’s senior vice president of sustainability. The scheme will exceed the requirements of the Global Product Strategy(GPS), the chemical industry’s new flagship system.

“We want to ensure that our process has third-party validation so it’s not just the company publishing this [data]," said Keplar, who was speaking to ICIS from the International Conference on Chemical Management 2 (ICCM2) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

"We’re using the University of Ottawa as the focal point. They’re selecting a panel of subject-matter experts that will be independent and review our processes to gain confidence in [them]," he said.

Greg Bond, Dow’s corporate director of product responsibility, said: “By early next year we should have a public report. We’ve asked them [the panel] to make a report which we’ll make public."

Bond added: "Then make a response which we’ll make public. We expect them to say, 'You’re doing well in some areas but we’d like to see some improvement in others'."

Keplar said the university was being invited to add independent experts in toxicology, health and science, analytics, public policy and risk assessment.

The panel will review Dow’s methodology as it moves towards a goal – first introduced in 2005 - of publishing data on all its chemicals by 2015. So far, it has published data on about 150 substances on the website

Dow aims to stay ahead of the Global Product Strategy, which was being discussed this week at the ICCM2. The GPS is introducing a framework which will allow all chemical producers to assess the safety of their product portfolio and release the results to the public.

Introduced by the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) in 2006, the GSP has a 2018 deadline.

Dow’s programme goes beyond the GPS because it has the element of independent scrutiny which is absent from the GPS. The Dow programme also aims for completion in 2015 versus 2018 for the GPS.

Keplar said: “Our commitment to transparency happened before GPS, and we’re very committed to work with the industry to lead that international way to move forward. We aim to be ahead of those targets by 2-3 years.”

He added: “You can lead by talking about it, or you can lead with your feet and have real examples which other people can emulate.”

Click here to listen to the interview

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By: Will Beacham
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