The foundation of Responsible Care® is its Ethic and Principles for Sustainability which the most senior executive of every Chemistry Industry Association of Canada company re-commits to annually. This statement was updated in 2008, with input from our many stakeholders, to address the heightened sustainability expectations and concerns of Canadians.
Codes of practice form the next level of the architecture of Responsible Care®. The current codes were written in the late 1980s with the help of our critics, and cover the entire life cycle of chemical products and processes -- from their inception in the lab and through their manufacture, transportation, use and disposal. These codes are currently being updated to cover the new sustainability expectations.
Companies are required to have a robust company management system - a "virtuous circle" of Plan--> Do-->Check--> Act - that drives continuous improvement in meeting the intent of the codes. For many companies, this involves the expansion of such management systems as ISO9001 or ISO14001 to cover the broader expectations of the Responsible Care codes.
Support and Encouragement
The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada has a large suite of documents and collective processes to assist companies in understanding and meeting the intent of the codes. These include:
- minimum standards;
- guidelines and checklists;
- networks of company experts for a wide range of disciplines;
- Leadership Groups of senior executives, for mutual assistance and peer pressure;
- tracking, analysis and reporting of performance (eg. safety and health, process safety, transportation safety, emissions and wastes);
- a continuously updated database of successful practices
CIAC staff expertise
Responsible Care is also challenged through the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada's National Advisory Panel. The Panel, which is made up of 12 to 16 activists, advocates and academics covering the range of society's concerns, advises the Association on how to understand and exceed the public's expectations. Acting like a sort of "focus group", the Panel provides important perspectives on aspects such as environment, public health, labour issues, transportation safety, consumer products and social responsibility.
How do chemical companies assure themselves they are living up to their obligations under Responsible Care®? How do communities and others know that the Responsible Care® ethic is being followed? Verification teams consisting of advocates, industry experts and neighbours visit all companies every three years to ensure that the ethic and management systems are in place to ensure compliance with the intent of the codes and that performance is continuously improving to meet peer and public expectations. The teams' Verification Reports are publicly shared by the companies and are posted on the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada's public web site.
The ultimate test of Responsible Care® is whether it delivers improved performance. On an ongoing basis, Association member companies must track, improve and report how they are performing in all the aspects of health, safety, environmental and social performance that are important to the public. The Association collects, collates and publishes data from all companies that our critics have told us they are particularly interested in. These include chemical emissions and wastes, with five-year projections, employee injuries and illnesses, process-related incidents (eg. spills, fires) and transportation incidents.