Project Details Responsible Application of Chemistry -- An Introduction to Responsible Care

Project No.:
Start Date:
20 December 2006
End Date:
01 May 2011
Division Name:
Committee on Chemistry and Industry
Division No.:


The objective of this COCI initiative is to create a framework projectfocusing on the responsible approaches to the application of Chemistryfrom research through industrial product to the ultimate use anddisposal of the products. Responsible Care will be used as a basisfor developing an understanding of what responsibilities chemistshave in using, handling, and producing and how they should exercisethese.


Responsible Care (RC) is an initiative of the Worldwide Chemical Industry. It started in Canada 20 years ago and is now accepted in 52 countries. The International Council of Chemical Associations, which represents the country associations, adopted the International Charter of Responsible Care in February 2006. This has been signed by 99 companies up to now.

The initiative is well know in the industry, however it is less known, nor understood within the academic and other technical communities. Also, it is not known in many countries where chemicals are not produced but used and in many cases misused.

The goal of the RC Project is to build knowledge and capacity about the bases, methodology, and goals of Responsible Care targeting particularly the following audience:

  1. Junior "leaders" in lesser-developed countries, in academic, business and government organizations.
  2. Chemistry Associations in lesser developed countries
  3. Supply chain contacts in lesser-developed countries and their suppliers in the developed countries.
  4. Various groups in the developed countries that will benefit from this knowledge, e.g. Universities, Government research establishments, etc.
  5. Feedback to the implementers of Responsible Care, which will help them keep continuously improving.

The results of this initiative will increase the awareness and the application of the ethics of Responsible Care in the institutions related to chemistry around the world, ultimately resulting in safer and environmentally improved ways of developing, making and using chemical products.


Staring in 2007, the implementation plan for this project includes the following:
1.- Produce a Monograph on the Ethic and Practice of Responsible Care with Jean Belanger.
This would be based on an article published in 2005 in CI, but expanded to add depth, examples and explanations. > see CI reprint

2.- Develop a Case Study with instructions for the appropriate teaching use.
The expertise of an appropriate University will be used to develop and write the case and the accompanying teaching instructions.

3.- Bring four to six young leaders from lesser-developed countries to participate in an existing CIC/CCPA Summer Program in 2007, and

4.- add on to this program a Responsible Care Case based workshop using the output from item 1 above.


March 2011 update - The original scope of the project has been reassessed and limited to producing only one case study, and from that to prepare documents that could be used as “teaching aids” or “mentoring aids”. This has been achieved with the production of two papers. The first is a summary of the history and development of Responsible Care by Jean Belanger et al (1). The second is a case study of an international supply chain failure, leading to the death of many children in Haiti (2). Both these have already been submitted for peer-reviewed publication and a summary of the case study has been published in Canadian Chemical News (3) and Chemistry International (4). In addition a workshop was conducted at McMaster University for a group of about 20 postgraduate students using the two papers and exploring the question “would the implementation of Responsible Care by the companies involved had prevented the supply chain problem that lead the death of the Haitian children.” The workshop was documented and this package (5) is now available for use generally within the chemistry community.
Finally, COCI is preparing another in its series of Safety Training Workshops for the IUPAC meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico in July/August 2011. The Responsible Care Project material will be included in the workshop in a way that has yet to be finalised. This will be a step towards ensuring the wider use of the RC Package with the other target audiences.

ref. 1. Belanger, Topalovic Krantzberg and West, Responsible Care: History & Development [Submitted to Environment, Development and Sustainability in 2010].

2. Topalovic, Peter and Krantzberg, Gail. Responsible Care in Global Supply Chains: a Case Study. [Submitted to Environment, Development and Sustainability in 2010].

3. Topalovic, Peter and Krantzberg, Gail, Broken Link, Can the Chemical Industry Ensure Safe Global Supply Chains? Canadian Chemical News {ACCN} July August 2010. [].

4. Topalovic, Peter and Krantzberg, Gail, Is there a Broken Link? Can the Chemical Industry Ensure Safe Global Supply Chains? Chemistry International May 2011, p.8.

5. Topalovic Peter and Krantzberg Gail, Responsible Care Workshop, Acelor-Mittal Dofasco School of Engineering & Public Policy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario Canada. October 2010.


May 2011 update - project completed – See Chemistry International May 2011, p.8 (intro + 2 features)

The project produced a couple of documents and teachingaids that are available to anyone interested in exploring ResponsibleCare in more detail. 

A paper published in May CI, by Gail Krantzbergand Peter Topalovic, is a summary of the case study of the 1996 tragedyin which 80 Haitian children died from ingesting cough syrup taintedwith diethylene glycol (DEG), a chemical commonly found in antifreeze. A second paper published in the same issue by Robert Slater is based on his presentation made atthe 3rd IUPAC Conference on Green Chemistry (August 2010) and uses theBhopal and Gulf BP incidents to explain how critical events can beturning points in defining policy agendas.