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CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa's chemical industry has moved forward towards its goal to ensure sustainability, the Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) announced in its annual "Responsible Care Report,” presented at a meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.
CAIA was founded in 1993 and since then has been working to establish a transparent and trustworthy image of the domestic chemical industry and to promote responsible care for employees and the environment. Its latest report shed light on a range of quantitative and qualitative measurements in terms of health, safety and environmental care and showed how the chemical industry fares against those in 2012.
The report revealed the latest trends in water use and recycling and explained that the CAIA will remain focused on improving waste and water management, product stewardship, energy use, greenhouse gas and other emissions, as well as on reducing the number of incidents in chemicals storage and transportation.
Joaquin Schoch, CAIA board chairman, commented that the report acknowledges success in a number of areas but also highlights the need for further improvement in the industry''s performance so as to avoid causing harm to the environment and people. The CAIA aims to meet all global standards in responsible care as stated in the Responsible Care Guiding Principles and, even though there has been a notable improvement in some of the figures compared to 2009 and 2010, this year''s report showed the need for safety to be placed at the heart of all operations.
While in 2011 the number of fatalities in the chemical industry declined, work should go on until the target of zero is reached. To make sure that the tendency for improvement continues, safety should be essential in all operations even if they are assessed to have a low level of risk, he explained. Injury rates for workers have not fluctuated over the past three years and are consistent with global trends, but the CAIA is going to put more emphasis on that area next year, Schoch added.
Positive developments were reported in resource efficiency, especially in electricity consumption, and there has been a solid improvement in water use efficiency.
The CAIA identified transport and storage of chemicals as one of the most challenging areas, where significant attempts to increase safety should be made to build on the success achieved this year. The report stated that three in four CAIA members had advisory committees running programs for keeping communities informed on health, safety and environmental risks related to handling chemical products, while 83% had a waste reduction scheme in place.
However, the report revealed a slight increase in greenhouse-gas emissions, which reached the levels reported in 2009. The rise was attributed to the fact that one of the companies that did not report its emissions in 2010 recorded elevated levels of carbon dioxide and methane.
This year''s CAIA report concluded that the South African chemical industry is on the path to improvement in health, safety and environmental care and companies will continue to pursue their objectives in responsible care.