Chemical Industry Solutions Enable Sustainable Use of Resources
Efficient but sustainable use of resources is among the focal points of the chemical industry’s Responsible Care programme for the 2010s. The past decade has witnessed a significant leap forward in the Finnish chemical industry. In addition to developing its own operations, the chemical industry also offers solutions for its customers. The 2010 results of the chemical industry’s Responsible Care programme have now been published.
The journey is long but we are proceeding in the right direction
The efficient use of resources has been a goal for the chemical industry for a long time. In 2010, the companies committed to the Responsible Care programme generated 4.3 grammes of waste to be disposed of in landfills per one kilogramme of output. Ten years ago the corresponding figure was over 19 grammes. In 2010, processes used altogether 1.1 litres of ground or surface water per one kilogramme of output whereas a decade earlier the figure was 1.6 litres. Turning by-products into new products or re-using them instead of discarding them as waste has enabled the industry to significantly reduce the amount of waste to be disposed of in landfills.
Since 1988, water discharges and air emissions have been monitored in the companies committed to the Responsible Care programme. In this period, air emissions with acidifying potential have decreased by 80 per cent relative to the volume of production. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) have been reduced by almost 70 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 20 per cent. Discharges of eutrophication compounds to water have decreased by about 50 per cent and potentially ecotoxic water discharges by approximately 90 per cent. New innovations have played a crucial role in the reduction of emissions.
Even though the results mentioned above are significant, we still have a long way to go. Functional solutions are required for enhanced sustainability of the use of resources and for the implementation of new raw materials and technologies. In this, the chemical industry’s solutions take centre stage. Sustainable use of resources can also lay the foundation for new business in the chemical industry. We have already seen examples of this in biofuels, water treatment and recycling of nutrients and materials.
Safety is part of well-being
In 2010, a total of 10.8 lost time injuries per million man-hours worked occurred in the committed companies. This is well below the national average in the industry. The positive downward trend in the number of lost time injuries results from the chemical industry’s strong investment in occupational safety and personnel know-how. During the follow-up period that began in 1988, accidents at work have been reduced by over 70 per cent. The final goal, production with zero accidents, is being pursued with determination.
In the Responsible Care programme, the concept of safety is understood in a broad sense. Safety is perceived as an integral part of overall well-being at work. In this development of well-being at work, cooperation between different employee organisations, with various events and programmes, have proved efficient.
Opening doors in the spirit of the International Year of Chemistry
Openness is one of the principles of Responsible Care. Over the years, companies committed to the programme have opened their doors to over 100,000 interested visitors. Cooperation with interest groups has also been carried out by organising neighbourhood discussion panels and the adopt-a-class programme, for instance.
The International Year of Chemistry 2011 brings additional colour to cooperation with interest groups. The Year highlights the significance of chemistry and its role as an integral aspect of a good life. For instance, in March the visitors to the ChemBio Finland 2011 fair contemplated Finnish innovations that influence their everyday life. An innovative solution involving waste-based fuel for vehicles emerged as the winner. Clean and environmentally friendly energy production is seen as a vital challenge for the future as well.
Further information on the Responsible Care programme and the makers behind the results can be found at www.chemind.fi/RCstories
The progress of environmental, health and safety work is monitored and reported on annually as part of the chemical industry’s international Responsible Care programme. In Finland 107 companies employing nearly 21,000 people are committed to the Responsible Care programme. The report containing information for 2010, which covers more than 80 per cent of the chemical industry’s output in Finland, was published on 26 April 2011.
Chemical Industry Federation of Finland
Director Aimo Kastinen, tel. +358 9 1728 4320 or +358 400 604 348.
Assistant Director Sami Nikander, tel. +358 9 1728 4258 or +358 40 567 4413.