Raising the Bar on Performance

Applauding Responsible Care's overachievers

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Some of the management practices in the Excellence Process are completely new, says Lubs, while others are combinations or modifications of what existed previously.

"Only we're raising the bar to make it more comprehensive and more of a best practice in the chemical industry compared to what had existed before," he stresses. "We're calling the first set of management practices the [Responsible Care] core process, and we're calling our new set of management practices the Excellence Process."

Before designing the Excellence Process, Lubrizol benchmarked itself against 11 other companies, taking a look at what the other companies were doing internally in relationship to their safety and health management practices. Its Texas facility was the first to commit to the new process; each of Lubrizol's other four major U.S. plants now is in the implementation process. According to Lubs, the process will be formally presented to the company's international facilities this month.

Implementation of the new process will take some time, notes Lubs, and the company has set no deadline for each site. "The only specific timeframe we have is to reduce our injuries and illnesses by the end of 2004 by 50 percent for our U.S. plants," he adds.

Preventing pollution

The Pollution Prevention Code, intended to bring about ongoing reductions in the quantities of contaminants and pollutants released to air, water and land, requires Responsible Care participants to safely manage and reduce wastes. That is no small feat for the already heavily regulated chemical industry.

The global BASF Corp. is up to the challenge, however. During the past few years, the company has been perfecting a waste minimization tool that not only identifies areas for waste reduction, but also promises to cut costs.

The tool ," essentially a spreadsheet ," identifies all the waste streams in a particular facility and pinpoints the costs associated with each. According to Mike Manning, a member of BASF's two-

person corporate Solid Waste Team, the tool looks at the whole waste-production process. It takes into consideration the depreciation on equipment used to manage that waste stream, the cost of the product being manufactured, the man-hours and regulatory man-hours associated with the waste, and more.

All the expenditures are rolled into an executive summary that shows the true cost for each of the waste streams, says Manning.

"It gives management at a particular location or within that business group the opportunity to say: OK, before we thought we were looking at $100,000 of money on the table. Now we're looking at much more than that,'" he explains. "And that may open up options where we can justify spending capital or changing formulations that we didn't think were justifiable before."

Manning stresses that the tool is not designed for the "low-hanging" fruit, the majority of which has already been addressed. "What we're doing is moving into a second tier of evaluation where we're digging deeper," says Manning. "Maybe, for example, we've got a process that uses a catalyst, and over time that catalyst degrades. By using this waste minimization tool, [we] might be able to go in there and justify changing the catalyst out sooner."

BASF is rolling out the tool throughout its facilities in the NAFTA region, says Manning. Beyond waste reduction and cost savings, the tool stands to create a potentially beneficial paper trail. "Even if you've identified that there are no opportunities out there," he contends, "what you've created is a very detailed analysis of your waste streams that would most certainly pass any waste minimization regulatory requirement assessment."

Of course, code implementation successes are not limited to chemical companies, as evidenced by the award-winning waste reduction efforts of Responsible Care partner Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio. The laboratory has pollution prevention programs in place for both hazardous waste and nonregulated materials, says Jim Walters, Battelle's manager of hazardous waste operations.

To promote reuse within its hazardous materials program, the company created a "virtual" chemical warehouse. "It's an Internet list of chemicals that people at Battelle don't want anymore and other employees [might be able to] use," explains Walters. "We try to reuse all of the chemicals that we can instead of disposing them."

In addition, the laboratory strongly encourages the recycling of nonhazardous materials. "Overall, we recycle 2.2 million pounds of materials annually," notes Walters. Battelle believes behavior modification is key to employees' making the right decisions when it comes to recycling. It builds awareness through a multimedia campaign that promotes recycling and relays accomplishments.

For its efforts, Battelle has been honored by the city and the state of Ohio. In addition, EPA presented the company with the agency's WasteWise Program Champion award four years in a row.

Moving it safely

The Distribution Code is designed to reduce risks posed by the transfer of chemicals to the public, carriers, distributors and others, as well as to the environment.

Canada-based Nexen Chemicals has ample experience in this area. The company's facility in North Vancouver, British Columbia, was involved in the code's development ," operating under the Canadian Occidental Chemicals moniker at the time.

"Responsible Care started in Canada in the mid 1980s," explains Terry W. Litchfield, Nexen's manager of transportation and logistics. "I was actually involved from square one in Canada, and I was one of the [people] who wrote the Transportation Code of Practice for the Canadian Chemical Producers Association [CCPA], which is the same code as the [U.S.] Distribution Code."

Nexen has established a formal carrier approval process that helps ensure the use of only pre-approved carriers in product transportation. In addition, the company instituted a transportation risk assessment process for all products and routes. Called the Qualitative Plus process, it actively involves the carriers in all assessment steps.

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