Issue Date: May 10, 2004
ACC TO LAUNCH OUTREACH WEBSITE
Later this month, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) will launch a website—demanded for years by industry critics—that will track the health, safety, and environmental practices of individual member companies.
It’s the first step in a wider campaign to open a window on the U.S. chemical industry’s health, safety, and environmental practices, ACC officials told 420 attendees at the annual Responsible Care Conference in Miami last week. The company information will be found at a site now under development: www.responsiblecare.com.
However, ACC’s public outreach plan hardly mattered to about 20 local environmental activists who held a brief demonstration critical of the chemical industry outside the hotel where the meeting was under way.
But inside the hotel, Fran Keeth, chairman of ACC’s Board Committee on Responsible Care, told attendees that the site will “expand the transparency” of the U.S. chemical enterprise. It will include statistics on such items as company greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, product stewardship, and security, said Keeth, who is also president of Shell Chemical.
The website will report aggregate and individual statistics for most but not all categories of data, said Debra Phillips, ACC Responsible Care team leader. For example, site visitors will see aggregate industry Toxics Release Inventory data as well as an alphabetically arranged table of TRI information from each ACC member.
For 2003, however, ACC will offer website visitors only aggregate safety data. When ACC has both 2003 and 2004 safety statistics available, it will also offer individual company statistics, Phillips explained.
The new website is part of the larger “essential2” outreach effort directed at the public, Keeth added. That effort got a boost when ACC’s board of directors met late last month and quietly authorized $20 million to be spent on its long-awaited advertising and communications program.
Terry F. Yosie, ACC vice president of Responsible Care, affirmed that the communications program would finally get under way next year, but with less than the $50 million a year originally proposed two years ago when ACC went public with its plans. The ambitious spending proposal “was never realistic.” The $20 million campaign is “more financially sustainable,” Yosie said, acknowledging the financial pressures that are affecting most U.S. chemical makers.
If it does get going, the outreach program won’t happen a moment too soon. According to a global strategic survey of Responsible Care conducted by London-based consultants SustainAbility, most people view the chemical industry as “a necessary evil.”
Jeff Erikson of SustainAbility, who discussed the survey results at the meeting’s opening session, said that although people admired the industry’s technical expertise, they were troubled by its lack of transparency and accountability and its failure to use common metrics.
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