(32a) Overcoming Regulatory Challenges in Chemical Management - Inherent Opportunities for the Chemical Industry | AIChE

(32a) Overcoming Regulatory Challenges in Chemical Management - Inherent Opportunities for the Chemical Industry

The first decade of this century has undoubtedly ushered in multiple changes and new beginnings in the way we live and do business locally, nationally and internationally.  There have been implemented regulatory and policy decisions that are having profound effects on how various industrial sectors operate. Among those industries significantly affected by new regulations and policies is the chemical manufacturing industry, uniquely subjected to multiple regulatory and policy changes which, while not effected with much public fanfare, are nevertheless sparking creative, new industry paradigms.

The industry is required to comply with extensive environmental and health/safety (EHS) requirements at local, national and global levels. Many of these regulations are administered by different regulatory agencies, but some have overlapping requirements. For example in the United States (US) chemical companies are subject to chemical handling/safety rules by two agencies - the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through several regulations including the Risk Management Plan (RMP), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) through Process Safety Management (PSM). In addition to these federal (or national) EHS requirements, the industry is also subject to global policy requirements such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) administered by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). All of these requirements include components on safe chemical handling to preserve worker safety and prevent or mitigate releases to the environment. In essence, chemical companies are obligated to comply concurrently with various chemical management standards by various entities. This is considered burdensome by most and undermining to the business bottom line by industry stakeholders.

Yet despite this perceived threat to business profitability, fulfilling these regulatory and policy requirements offers inherent opportunities for business growth and development. Indeed, some industry leaders like Dow Chemical Company (DOW) and BASF have seized the opportunity to develop sustainability tools and models while devising a comprehensive system for fulfilling the varied regulatory requirements. In addition to addressing social, ecological and business profitability concerns, sustainability explorations could lead to alternative raw material application, new product development and improvement in process operations, all positively affecting business performance. Results could extend into the global arena through the forging of strategic alliances to overcome national barriers that may inhibit ease of international compliance. Furthermore, these alliances could lead to improved global presence and established international branding. This paper will summarize key regulatory challenges in EHS/chemical management faced by the chemical industry and explore opportunities for business advancement through overcoming these challenges, citing industry cases.



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