Responsible Care: Program to Improve Health, Safety, and Environment

This voluntary initiative by the member companies of the Chemical Manufacturers Association covers the entire life cycle of the chemical process: R&D, production, transportation, and disposal.

Lori M. Ramonas
Chemical Manufacturers Association, Washington, DC

We are all living in a time of enormous change. Political change is sweeping the globe. Glasnot, the anti-apartheid movement, and Lithuania's struggle for independence have all captured the headlines. But there's also a quiet revolution going on — a cultural change that is transforming the way the chemical industry will operate and do business. It's a change being brought about because people, neighbors in our own communities where we run our plants, don't trust us. The quiet revolution is Responsible Care and it will impact everyone who handles chemicals. Responsible Care is an action program to improve performance in health, safety and environmental quality and to address the concerns the public has about our industry. It's ambitious. It covers the entire life cycle of the chemical process. From research to production. From transportation to waste management. From use to disposal. And, it has teeth. Responsible Care is an obligation of membership in the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) — members must participate. Our members themselves voted this change in our Bylaws because

they believe Responsible Care is too important to not involve everyone. The Chief Executive Officers of all our member companies have pledged their commitment. We want Responsible Care to become recognized as our Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for excellence in environmental stewardship. It's rare that you get the opportunity to participate in an activity that has historical importance while realizing its significance. We all have this opportunity with Responsible Care. The opportunity to seize the initiative and shape our own future. Our need to improve our performance is recognized by the "safety" theme of your symposium -- and validated by two undeniable facts. First, the public fears and distrusts the chemical industry. Real events — Texas City, Seveso, Bhopal, Valdez — caused the erosion of public trust and confidence in our industry. Today we are ranked second to last in favorability by the public. Not an enviable position to be in. Second, we can do a better job. We're not perfect. We're rightfully proud of our 99.9 percent safety

There is room for improvement.concerns they had already started to work on." It tells you how to get along with others in seven simple rules. This code says companies must initiate and maintain a community outreach program. The first code approved under Responsible Care was the Community Awareness and Emergency Response Code. This is a bold step to take. corporate or otherwise. But although 99. plant safety and transportation safety. Communications is the key. Responsible Care is a long-term commitment and we're in this for the long haul. head of the Texas League of Women Voters. They knew they would hear concerns about emission and concerns about better emergency response plans to evacuate nearby schools -. With Responsible Care the chemical industry is committing to go beyond complying with laws and regulations -. "All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. But that relationship can never even happen unless there is communication . Diane Sheridan. And no one had thought of it. One of our members recently assembled a community advisory panel to hear what was on people's minds in a parish in Louisiana where his company runs a plant.landings a day at Chicago's O'Hare airport and 20. without compensation. Responsible Care represents an evolution of thought within our get ahead of legislation and regulation -. government and business professionals. safety and environmental quality isn't a one shot deal.1 percent error can have disasterous consequences. that the codes tackle the tough issues. o o o o o o o Share everything Play fair Don't hit people Put back things where you found them Clean up your own mess Don't take things that aren't yours Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody downs. The codes define the best industry performance and sets it as an objective for all companies to achieve. to make certain we're on target. A group of environmentalists. But they also heard somethin they didn't expect — the people in the parish wanted the company to use the services of the local merchants to bolster the local economy. We can't rest on our safety record. Family members who give up their weekends five times a year. So too will any relationship between neighbors.000 wrong drug prescriptions a year.9 percent may sound good. Excellence in health. The Panel reviews everything we do as part of the initiative . Communication is the key! After all. a . Our Members must continuously improve their performance. And. That level of performance would leave us with two unsafe. Any human relationship has its ups and . This Panel wasn't created in our own self-image. responding to public concerns is what Responsible Care is all about. waste management. A program that deals with all the issues that are on the minds of neighbors in chemical plant communities.record. often refers to the book entitled. Codes of management practices are the heart of the initiative. No other environmental initiative today so clearly spells out what it will achieve. we have a Public Advisory Panel serve as a litmus test for public concerns. Other codes are being developed to address major areas of public concern including environmental releases. academics.with a voluntary initiative. A simple change that could be done quickly. No other initiative has such accountability. Community involvement begins by being a good neighbor. It is a group of concerned and informed people that speak their mind. to be part of the Responsible Care process. Community involvement.

We launced a major ad campaign and told the American people about our promise to improve our performance. We're not alone with this awesome responsibility. We must always keep the goal of Responsible Care in sight — to continually improve our performance. the environment is not a partisan political question. What we heard back from the April ad campaign was encouraging: o 35% of the estimated 31 million households the ad reached recalled seeing the ad. maintaining safer.plant manager on the "front lines" with the community. They gave us the model for our own program which we adopted in 1988. In April we did just that. Nobody is in favor of dirty air... People who know and who learned through the experience of the chemical industry that it only takes a few moments to lose the public trust that takes years to rebuild. This is very high for the first time "issue" advertising which usually has less than 10% recall. They urged us to talk about Responsible Care -to go public with our ways that are meaningful to the public.Safety has to come before profits. Environmental stewardship is everyone's responsibility. We need to be all in this together if we are to succeed. By lowering emissions. Canada spearheaded the spirit by adopting Responsible Care in 1986.we all must be environmentalists today. We must live up to our promise to the public. Environmental stewardship also doesn't stop at national borders and neither does Responsible Care. haveing fewer transportât tion accidents. We did this not to pat ourselves on the back but to hold our feet to the fire . CMA will be happy to work with you to help you to do this.. Through real and tangible results. environmental stewardship isn't one industry's exclusive responsibility. Australia and New Zealand all adopted Responsible Care. We must demonstrate our commitment. Some of the details of the programs differ. 36% of the readers felt the chemical industry was headed in the right direction with Responsible Care.It's our earth and we share a serious responsibility for its care.many of you have not. from the corporate CEO to the .. o o But the point is — people are willing to give us a chance.. Many of your companies already have adopted Responsible Care -. Today I invite all of you to take a look at Responsible Care and to consider adopting it. Last year Great Britain. plants and practicing better emergency response. Now we stand poised to shape our future. I also see commitment at all levels. It's every industry's responsibility as a good corporate neighbor. The globalization of Responsible Care has begun and continues to grow.The people on our advisory panel believe in our commitment. We've shone a spotlight on our public accountability through Responsible Care and we must live up to our promise. Be assured that the public expects no less and will be watching us. We've come a long way with Responsible Care during the past two years but we've got a long way to go. Because I see in the chemical industry today people of vision and people with a strong sense of environmental responsibility. "Protecting . Chief Executive Officer of Union Carbide and past chairman of CMA put it.. And we told them who we were by listing all the company signatories to the initiative. And we must periodically report back to the public on how well we are doing. 51% were either neutral or said they would have to wait and see if things get better." By the same token. but goals are the same — to change public opinions by improving performance .. I know we can do it. As Robert Kennedy.

By seizing the initiative now we'11 take an active role in shaping our own future. Let's not lose this precious opportunity. together.We have people's attention. We'll get the job done .. . We've got a chance to change their opinion with our commitment..

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