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Responsible Care Is Expanded To Encourage Safe Use Of Chemicals

by Cheryl Hogue
February 27, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 9

Industry Response

To implement the new global chemicals management strategy, an international industry group will promote its customers' safe use and handling of chemical products as part of its Responsible Care program.

The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) announced the strategy on Feb. 5 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, during the United Nations International Conference on Chemicals Management.

The enlarged Responsible Care program includes guidelines for product stewardship and the sharing of best chemical management strategies within the chemical industry and with its customers.

Alain Perroy, director general of CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, and secretary of ICCA, said one goal of the initiative is to build "a strong partnership with all actors in the supply chain to build a product stewardship culture at all levels."

In addition, the Responsible Care Global Charter and the Global Product Strategy are aimed at increasing the consistency of Responsible Care programs around the world, ICCA said. Currently, each of the 50-plus national or regional chemical associations in ICCA implements its Responsible Care program separately.

Also under the initiative, chemical companies participating in Responsible Care will no longer simply self-certify that they are in compliance with this industry program on environment, safety, and health. Nance K. Dicciani, president and CEO of Honeywell Specialty Materials, said companies will have to use a third-party verification process. Dicciani, who is also a member of the American Chemistry Council's board of directors, said a firm can seek verification of its Responsible Care compliance by industry associations, other companies, government agencies, or outside auditing organizations.

"This moves us beyond self-assessment, something our stakeholders and customers have long asked for," she said.

In response to the ICCA announcement, a coalition of environmental groups from around the world said, "Revisions to the Responsible Care program are welcome if they truly increase the commitment of the chemical industry to fully accept and discharge its responsibilities."

The groups noted that the Responsible Care program was created in the aftermath of the 1984 explosion of a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. That plant has yet to be cleaned up properly (C&EN, Jan. 23, page 26). The groups said the unaddressed contamination in Bhopal "is one of many experiences that demonstrate that voluntary programs alone are insufficient" and called on governments to ensure that chemical companies meet a "duty of care."




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