The next Responsible Care steps for the region’s chemical industry were outlined by experts at the first Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) Responsible Care Conference, which outlined the progress that the industry has made towards sustainability.
“All of us have not only an ethical but also a commercial obligation to play an active role in Responsible Care,” said Warren W. Wilder, newly appointed Chairperson of the GPCA’s Responsible Care Committee, and Vice President of Chemicals, Saudi Aramco.
“Improved safety in the workplace and for communities and workers, reduced operating costs, and reduced environmental impacts are the obvious benefits for Responsible Care member companies. But the emphasis on safety, product performance, resource efficiency, risk minimization, pollution, waste minimization and recycling, help not only the companies but also our clients, our suppliers and our communities.”
Energy efficiency and greenhouse emission reduction were high on the agenda in anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) taking place in December this year. Progress in this respect has already been made, with ambitious targets sets for countries around the region – for example, by 2032 Saudi Arabia aims to use 45% renewable energy.
“Energy diversification will have multiple benefits for GCC countries, where the demand for natural gas alone has doubled in the last decade, and is continuing to increase by around 9%,” said Dr. Henning Wuester, Director – Knowledge, Policy and Finance at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
“Energy subsidies cost GCC governments between 9-28% of revenue, putting pressure on budgets. Regional governments have already begun to address this issue with their initial explorations into renewable energy.”
While the move towards renewable energy will set the region on the right track towards a more sustainable future, the chemical industry is embracing Responsible Care into individual companies’ operations. In 2014, 43 GPCA member companies participated in transparent performance metrics reporting as part of the GPCA Responsible Care program, with up to 96% data reporting efficiency across 21 metrics, covering 5 categories: occupational health and safety, process safety, emissions and discharges, resource utilization, and distribution.
“Last year, 30 CEOs from around the region signed the Declaration of Support of the revised International Council Chemical Associations (ICCA) Global Charter, committing to the Responsible Care path,” said Alan Izzard, Responsible Care Director at the GPCA and Senior Advisor at Borouge.
“Momentum is undoubtedly building. The next steps we must take to define metrics will enable the region’s chemicals industry to be more strongly sustainable.”
How to improve health, safety, security and environmental practices in the sector were key focal points in the Responsible Care Conference. The annual conference took a multidisciplinary approach to Responsible Care, with input from top executives working in the petrochemicals industry, government, public policy, intergovernmental organizations and sustainability.
The Responsible Care Conference was held in Dubai from October 12-13, 2015.