Producers need more transparent safety reporting - Shell exec

15 May 2009 16:34  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--Chemical producers may have to seek external verification of their product stewardship practices and health and safety data if they are to build greater public trust, Shell’s executive vice president for chemicals, Ben van Beurden, said on Friday.

“We need to have more transparent reporting,” van Beurden said following events associated with the second International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM2) in Geneva.

ICCM2 was the second working meeting of the SAICM (strategic approach to international chemicals management) international chemicals policy framework process.

There was still some sentiment that industry would develop programmes such as the global product strategy (GPS) to deflect genuine concern, van Beurden said in a telephone interview. The ICCM2 meetings had highlighted trust and credibility concerns, he said.

“Is there a need for a verification process or an endorsement, from OECD, for instance?” he added.

The sector held sideline meetings, including a round-table discussion attended by senior company executives - Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and others - to discuss the implementation of GPS.

The week-long ICCM2 meeting had identified “chemicals in products” as an emerging issue of focus for international policy.

The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) said its product stewardship efforts would become more transparent, with a 2018 GPS target for companies to assess chemicals safety and an interim 2012 target for companies to report on and openly discuss their progress.

The trade group also said it was committed to report on approximately 15-20 more product stewardship performance metrics in the future, “further allowing the global community to evaluate chemical industry progress”.

The industry’s GPS initiatives would introduce a framework to let chemical producers assess the safety of their products and release the results to the public.

Major industry players such as Shell, BASF and Dow had sought to be at the forefront of the development of product stewardship ideas and practice.

Dow on Wednesday said a panel at the University of Ottawa would look at its products safety assessment methodologies. Shell was one of the companies to have put resources into the GPS process to help set standards and develop a product-stewardship infrastructure.

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By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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