In Egypt, UNEP’s Responsible Production initiative was included in the Egyptian National Cleaner Production Centre’s (ENCPC) activities to improve sound chemicals management supported by funding from the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Responsible Production was presented to more than 50 companies. Three companies, based in the 6th October City industrial estate, were eventually selected for the implementation of pilot projects with the aim of testing the applicability of the approach. The pilot projects were accomplished with the support of the German based company Beratung für integrierte Problemlösungen (BiPRO).
In order to provide for an efficient implementation of the Responsible production programme and to optimize the use of resources of the local support staff, four staff members of the ENCPC participated in a capacity building workshop organized and conducted by international experts under the scope of the ENCPC’s SAICM activities. The theoretical capacity building activities were followed by six months of implementation that focused on the three selected companies. Implementation was supported locally by the ENCPC and at distance by UNEP and BiPRO.
The Implementation of Responsible production resulted in a significant risk reduction at two chemical producers and, in addition, it greatly improved the risk situation of a company that employs chemicals. The majority of the suggested measures were implemented during the project phase.
The approach was generally very well perceived by the selected participants. However, more intense follow ups for companies were recommended. Likewise, involving more companies in future implementation would bring about more solid results. Several issues such as financial contributions of companies and the inclusion of RP in the portfolio of the ENCPC are yet to be defined.
The Responsible Production approach was well perceived during the awareness raising workshop and many companies expressed their interest in participating in the Responsible Production exercise. Following the workshop, some of the participating companies even started to independently apply certain elements of the RP toolkit.
Three enterprises were selected for pilot projects from amongst more than 50 participants at the Cairo workshop. The selection was made in accordance to all of the following criteria:
• Company size, as the tools have in particular been developed for SMEs;
• Representative industry sectors (provision of multiplication potential);
• Fair amounts of chemicals are used (no pure engineering/mechanical companies);
• The need for chemical hazard management (insufficient awareness and risk management systems);
• The presence of both production lines and storage facilities
In the light of experience, these criteria have proven valuable with regards to the identification of potential partners for the initiation of pilot projects.
In the period between the introductory training and the site visit, the selected companies were asked to complete a preparatory assignment consisting of the dashboard worksheets of the RP Framework booklet as well as a process flow chart (Tool 1.1) and the chemical inventory and hazard classification (Tool 1.2). This self-assessment approach is considered a first starting point for the implementation of RP and has in particular proven importance for an efficient conduction of subsequent site visits.
In general, the selected companies were fully cooperative in showing their production and storage facilities and very receptive to the idea of Responsible Production and the anticipated benefits. The trust building approach of the ENCPC can clearly be considered successful.
The actual implementation activities were conducted one and a half months after the workshop (5-7 December 2010). Prior to each of the company site visits, a brief introduction was given on the approach and goals of UNEP’s RP approach. The site visits were carried out in a collaborative way by both international experts and company representatives. Taking into consideration the previous self-assessment, work process flows were systematically analyzed with the aim to identify all the potential health, environmental, social and economic risks associated with chemicals.
The identified risk reduction measures were prioritized and discussed in more detail in a summary report which was prepared for each company.
This systematic approach has proven to be a very useful and applicable asset to achieve significant results within a relatively short period of time. Provided that companies are sufficiently prepared and by closely following the methodology outlined in the Responsible Production guidance, a timeframe of a two-hour company visit may be sufficient for the identification of the most relevant risk reduction measures.
Follow up and implementation support for companies: The actual implementation of appropriate risk reduction measures and the related cost-benefit analysis were eventually conducted in close collaboration with the ENCPC during the follow-up phase.
To this end, it is of significant importance to summarize the results of the site visits in a way that helps the management board to prioritize risk reduction actions. In this regard, it has been observed that implementing most risk reduction measures do not require major financial investments, but at the same time significantly contribute to the overall safety and health of the workers. It is recommended to start with “low hanging fruits” which may involve improved procedures, education/training or better equipment.
Those Companies that had signed up for the first pilot projects were given the opportunity to present their experiences with Responsible Production within the framework of the 2nd advanced SAICM chemical management training workshop held in May 2011. Participants included (reaching about 70) representatives from both industry and academia, in addition to the various stakeholders.
The companies reported in detail how Responsible Production was implemented, ranging from the initial technical support and training sessions over on-site visits and the identification and implementation of appropriate risk reduction measures to follow up activities. Based on these presentations, it was generally agreed that Responsible Production improved the management of chemical risks significantly, thereby providing for economical, environmental and social benefits. However, to guarantee for an efficient implementation, all activities are to be constantly monitored.