FocusAlliance between US and LatAm chem distributors key to global safety

18 November 2013 21:45  [Source: ICIS news]

By Andrew Guy Jr

MARCO ISLAND, Florida (ICIS)--Chemical distributors in the US must form an alliance with distributors in Central and South America to ensure global safety, a group of chemical distributors said Monday.

During a committee discussion at the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) annual meeting, several US and Canadian distributors stressed the need to form an alliance with smaller and independent chemical distributors in Central and South America.

“When you get outside of Brazil, you’ll find there’s not a lot of structure in the chemical distribution network down there,” said Mathew Brainerd, chairman of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Brainerd Chemical. “What we’d like to do, at the highest level, is try and help create another association down there.”

The need for safety makes such associations important, some have said.

Chemical distribution associations act as umbrella associations for members. Benefits of membership include education issues, best practices, governmental regulation updates and networking.

An analogy could be a physician belonging to an association of his speciality, in which he learns about new treatment and developments in the industry.

In the US, most chemical distributors belong to NACD. Canadian distributors have the Canadian Association of Chemical Distributors (CACD). Mexico has the Asociacion Nacional de la Industria Quimica (ANIQ). Brazil has the National Brazilian Distribution Association (ASSOCIQUIM).

But there’s a vacuum. Many countries in Central and South America have no chemical distribution association. As a result, smaller and mid-sized chemical distributors in those regions have no support network and have no way to learn about best practices within the chemical industry and new safety regulations.

Speaking on the sidelines after the meeting, Brainerd stressed the importance of a strong chemical distribution association in all regions of the world.

“I think we all have a social responsibility when it comes to chemical distribution,” Brainerd said. “The United States is taking responsibility. Canada is taking responsibility. We have to say to ourselves that we have to be responsible in how we handle chemicals around the world.”

Brainerd pointed out the increasingly global nature of business, particularly the chemical industry, as reasons that associations are needed.

“Companies ship chemicals around the world,” Brainerd said. “How do you know that those companies are employing best practices?”

Large chemical distributors, like Brenntag, are not the issue, Brainerd said. It’s expected that large companies have the resources and contacts in order to ensure safety. The problem is with the mid-sized and smaller distributors that may not have the same  esources and may be tempted to cut corners or may not know about best ways to handle an issue.

“In the chemical industry, these associations are vital,” Brainerd said. “There’s an element of social responsibility. Look at what happened in West, Texas. People may look at that and say, ‘See, that’s how the chemical companies operate.’ It’s very important that as an industry we take responsibility.”

Author: Andrew Guy

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