RESPONSIBLE CARE - SUBSTANCE, ACCOUNTABILITY AND OUTREACH

Prepared from the PACIA Annual Report 1997.

See also CMA's report.

And the September 1998 meeting in Queensland.

One hundred and twenty companies across Australia, including twelve new in the last two years are implementing Responsible Care. After seven years the program now covers 80% of the chemical supply in Australia. It is the unifying ethic by which the industry plans to meet community expectations for protection of people and the environment.

 

Responsible Care is founded on dialogue with interested parties, codes of industry best practice, continuous improvement, company network support and on accountability to the public, the government, external verifiers and to industry peers. Code compliance rose 8% points in 1996/97 to 62% average for seven codes but only 26% for product stewardship, clearly indicating the need for more work on this newest and most comprehensive product code.

 

Renewed emphasis following performance plateaus in 1995 have seen continued improvement in employee injuries (down 46% since 1990). Site incidents declined 15% versus 1995 to 69 across Australia while transport remained steady at 133 incidents, reinforcing the value of the PACIA Carrier Accreditation program to be introduced shortly. Eighty percent of sites have an emergency response plan and maintain an annual inventory of emissions and wastes. Sixty-four percent of sites have waste reduction programs and targets. Forty companies are active in thirty local community advisory panels and seventy-five sites (up 70% on previous) hosted 20,000 members of the public at the March 1997 Open Door Weekend.

 

Internationally the chemical industry for the first time produced a global Responsible Care status report and reviewed it at United Nations and other worldwide environmental and safety forums. The report highlights participation by forty-two countries providing 86% of the global chemical supply and details eighteen examples of Responsible Care in action.

 

The chemical industry both in Australia and globally now contends and has some support among interested parties that Responsible Care is an initiative of substance. It intends now to focus systematically on:

 
bulletspreading the ethic to new countries, downstream industry sectors and product users
bulletcontinued environmental and safety improvements by verification of company and country implementation programs and through strengthened CEO networking
bulletstrengthened initiatives in life cycle decision making and sustainability, and
bulletincreased evidence of international stakeholder support and delivery of benefits to stimulate further company participation.

 

Examples of Australian activities in support of these worldwide Responsible Care objectives are available from PACIA and summarized below.

Implementation and Coverage

 

bullet· Ongoing programs of network meetings and company briefings
bullet· Published reports outlining the providers of training courses on Responsible Care skills, lists of useful videos and guidelines for linking Responsible Care with 150-9000
bullet· Partnering programs established for one-on-one company assistance
bullet· Provision of Chemsafe emergency information and response capability and of transport Carrier Accreditation services
bullet· PACIA training courses provided on Responsible Care, Hazardous Substances and Dangerous Goods handling
bullet· PACIA HSE surveys for benchmarking and awards for recognition ofgood performance.
Credibility and Quality Assurance

  · Continued external Verification of code compliance which confirms that 92% of company self-assessments are accurate or understated at the 68 sites and seven codes verified since May 1995

· Input by the National Community Advisory Panel NCAP) to HSE and community issues to ensure PACIA advocacy matches the Responsible Care ethic (Inputs last year were begun on twelve items including greenhouse gases, chemical mixtures, plastic waste, chlorine compound use, farm in chemical controls, HSE surveys, awards and incidents)

· Publication of an annual NCAP report which this year outlines their new role above, acknowledges the genuine progress by many chemical companies but is disturbed by PACIA not requiring plastics companies to adopt the Responsible Care principles

· Development of guidelines for integration of ISO 14001 with Responsible Care

· Briefing of regulators on Responsible Care status and increased integration of it with their initiatives and audit programs

· Definition and PACIA Board approval of a nineteen point Responsible Care Implementation Policy to link the Abiding Principles to the codes and other processes for their implementation.

 

Outreach and Profile Upgrade

  · Briefing of industry employees in Responsible Care to increase their key role in Product Stewardship with chemical users

· Publication of a global (Feb 1997) and an Australian (Sept 1997) Responsible Care status report and regular newsletters

· Coordination of industry participation at community conferences via the PACIA Communications Network established in early 1996

 

Active participation in programs to correctly handle surplus household chemicals (in

· Victoria) and school chemicals ( in NSW)

· Regular papers at community dialogue, safety and environmental conferences

· PACIA assistance with Responsible Care implementation in several Asian countries and hosting of the 1998 worldwide Responsible Care coordination meeting

 

The Responsible Care process therefore has evolved and strengthened since its Canadian inception in 1985, although the ethic of care articulated in its Abiding Principles is some distance still from full implementation. Continued diligent attention to implementation detail, dialogue with stakeholders and systematic analysis of hazards remain essential. The key program challenges for the near future in Australia will then be to address the sustainability of raw materials, to manage plant and product hazards through their full life cycle and to increase awareness of all in industry and the community of the hazards, controls and benefits of all the options for substance use and contribution to modem life.
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