Responsible Care continues to gain traction in the GCC and plans are underway to integrate it further in the coming year, says Alan Izzard – GPCA director, RC/SQAS
By John Baker, ICIS
GCC chemical producers and logistics service suppliers (LSPs) continue to make progress on the journey to wider and deeper implementation of Responsible Care, the industry’s voluntary initiative on environment, health, safety, security and quality (EHS and Security). Several new initiatives are currently being developed and implemented as part of GPCA’s programme for 2016 and beyond.
GPCA introduced the Gulf Sustainability & Quality Assessment System (Gulf SQAS) in 2014, in a move designed to improve the performance of companies in the logistics arm of the supply chain in the region, mainly road transport companies and warehouse operators, but also eventually tank cleaning operations and rail transport.
“We have successfully launched the Transport Services assessments and the Warehouse module,” points out Alan Izzard, GPCA director for Responsible Care and Gulf SQAS, and also a senior advisor at Borouge. This year will see the roll out of the Tank Cleaning module.
|G-SQAS outreach activities in 2015
· Jan 2015 - Kuwait Workshop hosted by Equate
· April 2015 - Joint Workshop held in Jubail, KSA, co-hosted by the Jubail and Yanbu Royal Commission
· April 2015 - Presentation at the BDP Annual Conference in Dubai
· May 2015 - Presentation at the GPCA Annual Supply Chain Conference in Dubai
· Sept 2015 - Regional Carriage and Security of Dangerous Goods Workshop held in Dubai
· Sept 2015 - Presentation at the Qatar Annual Road Safety Forum
· Sept 2015 – Presentation at Leaders in Logistics Conference in Dubai
The relevant questionnaire was reviewed in the final quarter of 2015 and a pilot study will be carried out in the first half of 2016, ready for full launch in the fourth quarter of 2016. The aim, says Izzard, “is to encourage more tank cleaning operations to develop and at a higher standard of quality akin to those found in Europe.”
Development of the Rail module is still in the planning stage, but with investment in chemical rail transport high on the GCC agenda, it will be needed in the not too distant future, says Izzard.
Izzard explains that Gulf SQAS is regarded as enabling LSPs largely to fulfil the distribution and product stewardship codes of Responsible Care, which to date in the GCC has been reserved for chemical producers. However, this is set to change dramatically as GPCA is currently working on expanding Responsible Care to LSPs that are members of the association.
“This is a breakthrough,” he notes. “We are designing an option for logistics companies to become Responsible Care companies, following similar criteria as for GPCA full member companies, but with Gulf SQAS integrated into the system.”
LSPs will have to commit to the core principles of Responsible Care through a signed CEO Declaration, tailored to the needs of the logistics sector. On the technical side, companies wishing to gain the Responsible Care brand will have to complete Gulf SQAS assessments and transparently report annual performance against a number of specific EHS metrics.
“Once all three aspects have been completed, the logistics company will technically be able to say they are a Responsible Care company and display the Responsible Care logo,” says Izzard.
Work is very nearly complete on designing the necessary criteria and the new Charter, adapted for the LSPs, and it is expected that it is rolled-out this year. GPCA’s Responsible Care Committee, which oversees the Responsible Care programme in the GCC will manage issuance of the logo to LSPs.
This will be managed, says Izzard, with more integration between this committee and the GPCA Supply Chain and Gulf SQAS Committees.
“We want to grow GPCA’s membership in the LSP sector,” he explains, “and we need to convince people that they will get a benefit from branding with Responsible Care, thus differentiating themselves in the marketplace.”
The current Gulf SQAS programme, he adds, has been well supported in Saudi Arabia and the UAE – where most (90%) of the companies so-far assessed are based – and has been shown to be driving up standards of those taking part. A key focus in 2016 will be outreach campaigns to Oman and Qatar in particular, where uptake has been relatively slow so far.
“These companies [being assessed to Gulf SQAS] are doing a lot of good things here in the GCC, but are not being recognised for it – this is one reason we are bringing in the Responsible Care brand for them.”
Also for 2016, Gulf SQAS plans to implement a regional emergency response and technical support programme for logistics operators. Initial development work on this has been completed.
Turning to Responsible Care itself, Izzard points to several initiatives just completed and currently underway. GPCA held its first Regional Responsible Care conference and made the first presentations in its bi-annual Responsible Care Awards in October. It also last year issued its first integrated Sustainability and Responsible Care report.
Already a task force has been set up to look into enhancing the awards programme, which GPCA sees as a valuable tool for sharing vital information and recognising member achievements in Responsible Care. The next round will be held in 2017, for achievements made before the end of 2016.
Since its launch at the end of 2009, the GCC Responsible Care programme has signed up 30 of 31 target companies, says Izzard, and about two-thirds of them are fully compliant with all of the Responsible Care elements. Indeed, no fewer than 20 have gone further and implemented the third-party assessed RC14001 management standard, recently updated for 2015, although this is not a compulsory element in the programme.
“The target for 2016 is to bring the less active companies closer to implementing all the Responsible Care requirements”, says Izzard, notably by achieving better metric reporting and making self-assessments against the Responsible Care Codes of Management Practices. These are largely companies that do not sit on the Responsible Care Committee and where there is thus some degree of disconnection.
At international level, GPCA sits on the Responsible Care Leadership Group (RCLG) of the International Council of Chemical Associations and has been involved, through Izzard, in drafting a new position statement on the role and contribution of Responsible Care within the broader concern of sustainability.
This will be presented to the next RCLG meeting in April and there is a good chance it will be accepted later this year, he believes. It will replace an earlier position paper drawn up some five years ago, since when thinking on the matter has evolved and the topic become more important.
Essentially, he explains, Responsible Care is being put forward as the chemical industry’s commitment to sustainability, but with the recognition that sustainability has a broader compass than ESHH&Q issues, notably economic and social aspects. These, he explains, have to be managed at the individual company level, as specific issues and instances are addressed.
“We should not get worked up about what we are not doing; we should look at what we are doing [with Responsible Care]… already providing the necessary platform to meet a considerable number of the sustainability goals.”