Refining and petrochemicals manufacturing companies in the GCC have realised that advancements in HSE can bring maximum benefits to the organisation and community only when they cooperate with one other through initiatives like Responsible Care.
Responsible Care is the global chemical industry’s answer to address concerns about the way chemical products are manufactured and distributed. It is a stamp of guarantee that all measures to ensure environment, health, safety and security (EHS&S) standards have been followed.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) defines Responsible Care as the chemical industry’s world-class EHS&S performance initiative. The initiative aims to drive continuous improvement in all four areas, while promoting transparency among all stakeholders. The programme was first launched in 1985 by the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada.
It was later adopted by the American Chemistry Council in 1988 and subsequently by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) in 2009. Some of the programme’s guiding principles include: to lead in ethical ways that benefits society and the environment; to develop products that can be manufactured, transported, used and disposed of, or recycled safely; to operate facilities in a safe, secure and environmentally sound manner; to promote pollution prevention, minimisation of waste and conservation of energy; and to cooperate with governments at all levels and organisations in the development of effective and efficient safety, health, environmental and security laws, regulations and standards.
According to Debra Phillips, vice president of sustainability and market outreach at ACC, and member, Responsible Care Leadership Group, ICCA (International Council of Chemical Associations), the programme is currently practised in 65 economies around the world. “The addition of major chemical manufacturing countries like China has helped enable the industry to fulfil its commitment to sound chemicals management worldwide,” Phillips says.
Responsible Care in the Middle East and GPCA
GPCA is the only association in the Middle East promoting the Responsible Care programme. According to Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general, GPCA, all manufacturing member companies of GPCA have adopted Responsible Care, and more than 70% of members have already undergone the independent RC14001 third party certification.
“Since joining Responsible Care in 2009, GPCA has had a strong and active presence in promoting Responsible Care in the Gulf Region and beyond,” comments Phillips. “GPCA has been a model association in regards to Responsible Care implementation, progressing beyond its initial projected implementation path.”
“In its fourth year of membership, GPCA achieved the coveted ‘Beyond Implementation’ status, which means the association achieved milestones listed in the five to ten year implementation category ahead of schedule. GPCA has established a performance reporting programme and capacity building programme, and provides assistance to other regional associations in implementing Responsible Care.”
Dr Al-Sadoun remarks: “The association’s adoption of Responsible Care demonstrates its commitment to continually advance the sustainability agenda in the region’s chemical industry, ensuring that as the sector grows, continuous improvement for the management of environment, health, safety and security remain at the forefront of its priorities.”
“Our aim is to position the Arabian Gulf not only as the beating heart of the global downstream industry, but also as a bastion of international best practices,” Dr Al-Sadoun adds. “Responsible Care is obligatory for GPCA full member companies. At the heart of Responsible Care is the idea of continuous improvement in light of new information, new technology, new expectations, and constant reassessment of performance and objectives. Responsible Care is an essential element of an organisation’s licence to operate.”
Benefits for companies
Implementation of the Responsible Care initiative provides several benefits for member countries. Some of these include return on investment in the form of energy efficiency, reduced emissions, improved waste management, and fewer accidents in the work environment and improved community relations and trust with stakeholders and customers which provides a competitive advantage.
“Responsible Care for member companies is their licence to operate. Becoming a certified Responsible Care company enables the GPCA member companies to continuously improve their environmental, health, safety and security knowledge, while enhancing the performance of its technologies, processes and products over their lifecycle so as to avoid harm to people and the environment. It further promotes efficient resource utilisation and the minimisation of waste,” opines Dr Al-Sadoun.
When it comes to global sustainability, ACC has data to support the benefits of Responsible Care. “Since 2000, there has been a 60% reduction in lost-time injury rate among Responsible Care companies. In addition to employee safety, resource conservation and the safe transportation of our products are key components of the initiative. There has been a 36% reduction in SOX/NOX emissions and a 45% reduction in distribution incidents,” reveals Phillips.
GPCA Responsible Care conference
GPCA organised its first Responsible Care conference in 2015. The event saw the launch of its first integrated 2014-15 Responsible Care and Sustainability Report, which briefed about the programme and its performance metrics and showcased key sustainability information and case studies.
The second edition of GPCA’s Responsible Care conference will take place in Dubai during 6-8 May 2018 under the theme, ‘Responsible Care – The Competitive Advantage’. The conference will showcase best regional learnings across the chemical and petrochemical sector and define the future direction of Responsible Care companies in the region. The event will provide an opportunity for companies to discuss challenges they face in EHS&S and to network with other key players in the industry. Dr Al-Sadoun points out: “Some of the key topics addressed at the event will be ‘Achieving Excellence through the Responsible Care Codes of Management Practices’, ‘Leveraging the Human Factor to Drive Results’, ‘Building Organisational Resilience’, and ‘Defining the Industry’s Future Direction’.”
The event will also see the Responsible Care Awards on 7 May. “On 7 May 2018, GPCA will host its second Responsible Care Awards which honour companies and individuals that have demonstrated leadership and outstanding performance in the implementation and execution of the Responsible Care programme,” discloses Dr Al-Sadoun.
“Through this award series, GPCA provides its member companies and other industry stakeholders with an opportunity to showcase their achievements in the field of Responsible Care, while sharing best practices and adding value to their business. Interest in the coveted awards programme has been extremely high, with in excess of sixty entries for the six categories,” observes Dr Al-Sadoun.
Petrochemical companies in the GCC have realised that advancements in health, safety and environment can only bring maximum benefits to the company and community when they cooperate with one other.
Performance reporting a key component
“Under the Responsible Care Global Charter, companies commit to collect and report data for a core set of environmental, health and safety performance measures like energy and water consumption, CO2 emissions and distribution, and process safety incidents,” says Phillips.
Since 2010, GPCA has collected, aggregated and analysed EHS&S metrics data, following international reporting standards from its full member companies. “The performance metrics (commonly known as PMs) are categorised into five groups, comprising 21 metrics. These categories include occupational health, process safety, emissions and discharges, resource utilisation and product distribution. Members are required to report these PMs on annual basis. These metrics offer the region learning opportunities and an excellent means of benchmarking EHS&S performance,” comments Dr Al-Sadoun.
Data and related success stories are also published annually in a performance metrics report. Companies have the opportunity to use this data to benchmark their EHS&S performance against other Responsible Care companies.
Goals for the future
In terms of immediate goals, ICCA is working to actively strengthen and spread the ethic of Responsible Care worldwide, by helping developing countries enhance their capacity to manage chemicals safely.
“ICCA has provided support for more than 170 capacity building projects in 46 different countries since 2006. ICCA is expanding the Responsible Care ethic into additional regions, including Africa, by conducting capacity building workshops in Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania, and we plan to expand Responsible Care to three more African countries, over the next few years,” concludes Phillips.