Care For People and Planet


Care for people and planet addresses predominantly the social and environmental targets of the UN-SDGs. Improving safety in all its dimensions contributes to decent work (SDG8) and good health (SDG3), while focusing on the environmental footprint by reducing emissions and addressing biodiversity contributes to achieving SDG 6 ‘Clean water and sanitation’, SDG 14 ‘Life below water’ and SDG 15 ‘Life below land’. Both the chemical industry’s voluntary initiative Responsible Care®, and the Safe and Sustainable-by-Design concept put forward by the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability aim to address these social and environmental targets starting already in the design phase. Design products and processes that continuously improve the environmental, health and safety performance throughout the life cycle of the products to avoid harm to people and the environment. Designing for sustainability focuses on safety during production, safety of the production process itself, and on chemical safety. It also aims to limit the environmental footprint by reducing emissions and help protect biodiversity.

Operational Safety

Safety is the key factor for the chemical industry to protect and promote the well-being of both employees, the driving force of the sector making the difference, and employers. The chemical industry strives continuously to prevent accidents by embedding a strongly embedded safety culture.

Accidents at work

The chemical industry aims to continuously improve safety conditions in its manufacturing sites for the 3.3 million employees, contractors  and visitors active in the sector. As a result, the number of non-fatal accidents at work decreased between 2010 and 2014 by almost 25%. In the period 2014-2018, no further improvement is observed. The incidence rate for fatal accidents is low but not zero proving the need for continuous focus on safety and prevention, as is the case within the chemical industry.

Incidence rate non-fatal accidents EU27 chemical -and manufacturing sector

Incidence rate fatal accidents EU27 chemical and manufacturing sector

Key levers for industry activity & company example

1. Priority by management
2. Safety protocols for every manipulation & operation of installations/(heavy) machines/tools
3. Continuous improvement of safety protocols


4. Periodic Process Safety audits
5. Personal protection equipment
6. Incentivise employers after an extended period without accidents

Associated SDG targets

UN SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SDG 12-ResponsibleConsumptionAndProduction

Maximise process safety: avoiding accidental release of chemicals

The chemical industry strives to maximise its process safety to avoid the accidental release of chemicals to the environment. Accidental release might impact human health as well as environmental status but can also create unsafe working conditions. Therefore, reporting on process safety is a mandatory metric within the Responsible Care Leadership Group. A clear definition of process safety events which have to be reported is worked out, but differ from the accidental pollution releases reported in the E-PRTR database of the EEA which are used here.

Accidental pollutant releases

The number of accidental pollutant releases to water and air decreased with around 50% over the period 2007-2019. However, the number of accidental pollutant releases is still between 600 and 1000 for both water and air. The accidental pollutant releases to land did not show a decreasing trend, but the number was always under 10, except for 2007, 2008 and 2018.

Accidental pollutant releases from the EU27 chemical industry to air, water, and soil

Key levers for industry activity

1. Having process safety prevention measures & protocols in place
2. Continuous evaluation/audit of safety measures
3. Follow-up and evaluation after accidental release of chemicals

Contribution to the EU Green Deal

Europe’s seas, oceans, and environment are a source of natural and economic wealth for Europe. We must preserve and protect them to ensure that they continue sustaining us in the future.

EU Green Deal priorities include

  • Protecting our biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Reducing air, water, and soil pollution
  • Ensuring the sustainability of our blue economy and fisheries sectors

Associated SDG targets

SDG Good Health and Well-being
UN SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SDG 12-ResponsibleConsumptionAndProduction

Use Best available Techniques to minimise emissions to water and air and to retrofit chemical plants

The chemical industry invests continuously in the improvement of their production processes. Best available techniques are implemented to optimise production and to minimise emissions to the environment.

Emission of air pollutants

Between 2007 and 2019, the chemical industry achieved a 40% reduction in its acidifying emissions. The reductions observed after 2013 reflect the implementation of measures in the industry triggered by the Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions transposed by the member states January 2013.

Acidifying emissions from the EU27 chemical industry to air

Ammonia (NH3), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx)

The chemical sector has seen a drop of over 58% in non-methane volatile compounds (NMVOC) emissions intensity since 2007 (European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) data). This is the result of a range of measures including process optimisation and improved emissions control during storage and transport.

Methane and non-methane volatile organic compound (NMVOCs) emissions from the EU27 chemical industry to air

Emission of water pollutants

The Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), an indication of the organic contamination load of wastewater, decreased significantly between 2007 and 2009 when most of the chemical manufacturing sites implemented Best Available Technologies (BAT). Since 2009 fluctuating emissions have been observed although a further decreasing trend seems to have started again since 2017.

Total organic carbon emissions from the EU27 chemical industry to water

The chemical sector saw a drop of over 64% in nitrogen (N) and 50% in phosphorous (P) emissions to water between 2007 and 2019. Control measures for N and P continue to be effective. Again, with the widespread implementation of Best Available Technologies between 2004 and 2007, significant reductions in the industry’s emissions of N and P have been achieved.

Total nitrogen and total phosphorus emissions from the EU27 chemical industry to water

Key levers for industry activity & company example

1. Improving water treatment installations

2. Implementing Best Available Techniques

Contribution to the EU Green Deal

Europe’s seas, oceans, and environment are a source of natural and economic wealth for Europe. They should be preserved and protected to ensure they can continue to sustain us in the future.

EU Green Deal priorities include

  • Protecting our biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Reducing air, water, and soil pollution
  • Ensuring the sustainability of our blue economy and fisheries sectors

Associated SDG targets

SDG Good Health and Well-being
UN SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SDG 12-ResponsibleConsumptionAndProduction

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