For several years Rotem Amfert Negev Ltd. (“Rotem”) has been integrating some novel and effective Product Stewardship methods into its operations as part of its efforts to increase sustainable development activities. Recently, ICL Fertilizers was recognized for its efforts as a “pioneer” in IFA’s product stewardship initiative, receiving certification at “Excellence” level. This followed Rotem’s implementation of a unique and successful Product Stewardship pilot programme.
Sustainable development is broadly defined as taking into account organizations’ current needs without harming the social, economic and environmental needs of future generations. To promote sustainable development activities, the chemical industry has voluntarily initiated and adopted a comprehensive programme - Responsible Care. Responsible Care promotes the health and welfare of industry employees, safety, environmental quality, managerial responsibility for the product life cycle, managerial ethics, transparency, communication with stakeholders, and development support of society and the community.
Product Stewardship is one of the key elements of the Responsible Care programme. It mandates that a product must be managed throughout its life cycle (including development, engineering, raw materials purchase, production, packaging, transportation, distribution, marketing, sales, applications and end-of-life uses). Companies must take into account a variety of considerations throughout the product’s life cycle: safety, occupational health, environmental quality, security, community awareness, preparedness for emergency situations, and regulation. (Rotem has added two more considerations: greenhouse gas emissions and product quality).
The guiding principle of Responsible Care is that companies must assume responsibility for all those involved in a product’s value chain – suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, transporters and users – in order to minimize negative environmental implications that might occur at each stage of the product life cycle.
Rotem’s management decided to apply a comprehensive methodology of Product Stewardship principles focusing on sulphur, which is a main raw material for the production of sulphuric acid.
The company developed methods using a matrix with product life stages on one axis and Product Stewardship “building bricks” on the other. Each “crossing” of a stage in product life with a building brick is examined through a series of interviews with key professionals in the field. Interviewers have focused on localizing risks and evaluating the probability and severity of events, as well as on reviewing existing activities to minimize risks and suggesting additional activities to further reduce them.
To assist in this endeavour, Rotem engaged an external company that conducted interviews, collected information and analyzed results. Further stages in the programme included classifying the level of responsibility of the client or target country, defining a Product Stewardship Procedure and Policy, and nominating a part-time Product Stewardship Manager.
In March 2011, a pilot assessment was conducted at the Rotem facilities to evaluate the company’s Product Stewardship management systems. Following the pilot evaluation and ensuing certification at the “Product Steward Excellence” level, Rotem management plans to implement these management systems for all its product areas over the next few years.