15 Dec India Bromine Platform – Collaborating to make the Bromine Ecosystem Safer for all Stakeholders
Perception of the Chemical Industry in India
A stark difference can be seen in the perception of chemical industry by the industry ecosystem and the public, especially in India. Chemicals help in improving the quality of our lives and they are indispensable, with applications across health, nutrition, energy, computing, just to name a few. The industry also continuously innovates, with the influx of new and safer technologies such as Nano pesticides, Selective organo-catalysts, sanitization chemicals EV batteries and 3D- printing.
Yet, in India, the chemical industry has historically been perceived as a high-risk industry by stakeholders, including the government, regulators, communities, youth, and environmentalists. The increasing importance and focus given by media on covering accidents related to chemical industries is also having a significant impact on same. This has proliferated into protests and opposition from the public for setting up new chemical industries across India.
Safety Programs – Enhancing Chemical Management Safety
To ensure enhanced safety in chemical management, globally, several initiatives have been taken up proactively by the chemical industry. These programs identify safety risks across the value chain, right from R&D, Material Sourcing, Production, Distribution and Sales, and suggest safety measures to mitigate their impact. Some of the leading programs include:
- Responsible Care – A global initiative by International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) –Aims to drive continuous improvement in safe chemicals management in environment, health, safety, and security aspects
- Nicer Globe – An initiative by Indian Chemical Council (ICC) aligned with Responsible Care – Enables global standards, infrastructure, and services for safe and secure transportation of hazardous chemicals
- Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management – An initiative by ICCM1
- To ensure safe production of chemicals by 2020. After 2020, aims to align the industry with Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity
Both Nicer Globe and Responsible Care have seen adoption in India, driven by ICC, and have improved on ground safety of manufacturing and handling chemicals
Need to go beyond technical compliance – focus on improving community perception
Safety initiatives focus primarily on enhancing standards, defining policies, processes and ensuring compliance to same. But these are only a part of the bigger picture. To change the public perception of the chemical industry, it is important to build trust and confidence in the greater community (citizens near chemical industries, local leaders, including municipal officials, etc.), through proactive messaging and community centric initiatives. This requires a two-pronged approach:
- Engaging proactively with the greater community and building a positive perception before entering the community
- Proactively supporting development of the community and being known as a good neighbor – build a “trust” surplus
This can be done by contributing to the communities of interest and highlighting the benefits of the chemical industry in terms of:
- Promoting jobs, local suppliers
- Promoting investments in community development, including beautification, upkeep of elements like parks, roads near chemical industries
- Promoting targeted CSR projects in line with community needs
- Promoting innovations and new technology projects and their benefits to the community
- Promoting research focused on safety and sustainability
In addition to the above, it is extremely important to keep the community informed about major plans and initiatives to build and retain confidence in the chemical sector.
India Bromine Platform – Driving Fire Safety jointly with Stakeholders
Indian Bromine Platform (IBP) was established in 2018 under the aegis of the Indian Chemical Council. It comprises of bromine suppliers to India , who have come together to drive mutually beneficial initiatives relevant to India’s bromine ecosystem. The IBP aims to promote safe use of Bromine and achieve the full potential of its end-use applications to improve safety and quality of life. IBP engages with stakeholders across the value chain, to collaboratively work towards a safer environment, by promoting policies and standards and driving awareness of best practices. IBP’s contribution towards driving safety include:
- Identifying opportunities to enhance passive fire safety across sectors
- Propagating safe Bromine handling, leveraging other initiatives in the Indian ecosystem like Responsible Care and Nicer Globe
- Working with government agencies, industry, and academia to define regulations and standards related to Bromine and Bromine technologies based on sound science
- Driving efforts to enhance knowledge about bromine and bromine-based technologies among relevant stakeholders
IBP also disseminates local and global best practices on safe handling, sustainability, and mutual aid. Some key initiatives of IBP are listed below:
- The “Bromine Bluebook” containing best practices on bromine handling
- A training program with custom content to harmonize understanding about the best practices
- Ready reckoners & checklists on bromine handling, translated into key regional languages to aid widespread adoption by extended ecosystem, including first responders
IBP serves as a model where competitors have put the chemical ecosystem and society first and created a platform for aligning stakeholders in a sustainable manner over the long term.