Credibility through Responsible Care®
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is committed to creating products that improve lives, using processes that do not harm the environment, and to safety, health and security.
It launched the U.S. Responsible Care® initiative in 1988 to ensure that these principles would be followed, to protect and benefit the lives of employees, partners, suppliers, customers and people around the world.
Responsible Care® has resulted in reduced emissions of 70 percent and an employee safety record that is four times better than the average of the U.S. manufacturing sector. It is also a global initiative that is practiced in 47 countries, though the specifics vary from country to country.
Chemical companies with Responsible Care certification strive to exceed government requirements, improve their performance through excellence in management practices, track and communicate their progress and work with independent auditors to enhance and certify their management systems.
The ACC is requiring its member companies to take part in this initiative, and to achieve Responsible Care certification by the end 2007.
Responsible Care Standards
The Responsible Care Management System® (RCMS®) is a framework to assess needs, build performance goals and report progress to the public. ACC members must verify that they have an effective system in place through independent certification by an accredited Responsible Care registrar.
There are two approach options:
RCMS: This approach, limited to ACC members, assures compliance with the requirements of the RCMS, focusing on specific activities within the areas of product stewardship, stakeholder outreach, environmental, health, safety, and security. Each company is audited against the requirements of the RCMS Technical Specification.
RC14001: This combines the RCMS requirements with the ISO 14001 environmental management systems standard, integrated into one certification audit. Companies seeking RC14001 certification must comply with the elements of the RCMS and the ISO 14001 standard. The RC14001 Technical Specification has been updated to include the recent revisions to the ISO 14001 standard.
The American Chemistry Council has assembled a Technical Oversight Board that is responsible for overseeing the entire certification process, the auditor and the Audit Service Provider approval process, act as liaison with accreditation bodies, and maintain certification procedure documents.
SRI Quality System Registrar (SRI) is an approved Responsible Care service provider that is prepared to assist companies in pursuing Responsible Care certification.
The RC14001 Technical Specification is more comprehensive than ISO 14001, but the certification process grants both an ISO 14001 registration certificate and an RC14001 certificate, if the management system meets all requirements. As a result, certification to the RC 14001 Technical Specification fully meets customer requirements for ISO 14001 registration.
Every ACC member company must complete either RCMS or RC 14001 certification audits for a specific number of sites. Headquarters plus a fraction of the plant sites must be certified.
How RC14001 and ISO 14001 Audits Differ
RC14001 audits are similar to ISO 14001 audits, but with a few key distinctions. In RC14001, additional personnel are involved from logistics, distribution, product stewardship, process safety, and security. Safety, Health and Environmental (SH&E) professionals will be involved in the plant and headquarters sites.
Interaction and communication with community partners, local governments and agencies represents a larger part of RC14001. Companies are focused on stakeholder concerns.
Because of the additional requirements, auditors need additional time to assess the RC14001 management system relative to the typical time requirements for an ISO 14001 audit.
Who Should Seek RCMS® and RC14001
RCMS is limited to ACC members only. Businesses in the chemical, petroleum, and allied industries can use RC14001 to implement a single environmental, health and safety management system that meets best practices, encourages stronger performance and provides a route to business success. Responsible Care® is a valuable tool to demonstrate to customers and stakeholders that a company is committed to corporate and social responsibility.
By participating in Responsible Care®, ACC members agree to:
- Measure and publicly report performance
- Implement the Responsible Care Security Code
- Obtain independent certification for a professional management system
- Apply the modern Responsible Care Management System to achieve and verify results
Benefits of an Effective Responsible Care Management System
Achieving Responsible Care certification helps companies improve their performance and better succeed in business.
Through the Responsible Care Management System, companies can provide alignment and compatibility with other management systems. RCMS provides a method to integrate safety, environmental, security and health performance thereby improving efficiencies of the processes and systems that may be currently operating independently.
The certification process encourages teamwork, by revealing how many management groups interact, including environmental, health, and safety, community relations, shipping, security, regulatory compliance and purchasing.
The Responsible Care certification process shows how to reach out to neighborhood groups, local residents, government agencies and other stakeholders to improve community relations, generate positive feedback, and strengthen a firm’s credibility.
In implementing the security portion of the Responsible Care Management System, many companies have seen reduced liability premiums from their insurance providers due to the elevated focus of the RCMS requirements.
Facilities that are certified for Responsible Care tend to outperform the industry average. Certification may lead to superior performance, across a wide range of areas and along the supply chain. Environmental, health, safety, security, product stewardship, and value chain performance, are combined with a strong program of social responsibility, expanding the business value beyond ISO 14001 registration alone.
The ACC has developed the Responsible Care Partnership Program for nonmember companies who wish to achieve a higher level of safety, environmental, security, and health performance in handling and transporting chemicals.
The ACC is also suggesting that suppliers meet the requirements, which some companies have mandated in their supply chains. Transportation and shipping firms associated with the chemical industry can become Responsible Care® partners, while legal and accounting firms can become friends of Responsible Care.
Customers, shippers, and other firms involved in chemical transportation, distribution, storage, treatment and disposal may adopt the Responsible Care initiatives. Companies that are engaged in chemical sales, marketing and logistics may also be eligible.
Responsible Care Partner companies must implement all elements of the Responsible Care initiative, including the management system, certification, reporting and meeting the security requirements. These firms benefit from improved dialogue between members and partners and smoother interactions on business and security practices.
Certification audit requirements are specific to a company’s operations, in one of 11 business sectors: bulk truck, equipment suppliers (chemical containers), equipment suppliers (hardware or components), logistics management companies, marine (barge), non-bulk (LTL) truck, rail, service industries (central management services), service industries (field technical services), terminals and warehouses.