INDUSTRY INSIGHTThought Leadership

Reducing Environmental Footprint through Responsible Care®

The region’s commitment to sustainability remains high on government and industry agendas. The chemical industry is aligned with the region’s environmental commitments through its dedication to the core values of Responsible Care®, making it safer and more sustainable for future generations. COVID-19 has presented innumerable challenges, but the regional industry’s efforts remain steadfast to ensure the highest levels of safety (to staff) and sustainability (to the environment), all while maintaining optimum productivity levels.

Transparency in reporting Environment, Health, Safety & Security (EHS&S) performance is a fundamental element of the GPCA Responsible Care® initiative – a global initiative that drives continuous improvement in EHS&S. Open and transparent communication among stakeholders will help embrace the development and application of sustainable chemistry, ultimately supporting the industry’s contribution to sustainable development and allowing them to meet the world’s growing need for essential chemical products.

A common set of performance metrics have been introduced to pledging member companies at GPCA to understand EHS&S performance, facilitate shared learning and identify organizations that are leaders in EHS&S performance. The GPCA Responsible Care Performance Metrics Report is an annual report that highlights all the metrics from GPCA’s 38 participating companies with 836 data entries. The data presented in the report is a true reflection of the commitment and support from GPCA members and the cultural evolution through knowledge sharing and the exchange of best practices over the years. Metrics studied in the report include:

  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Process Safety
  • Emissions and Discharges
  • Resource Utilization
  • Distribution and Products

For the purpose of this article, we will deep dive into the individual definition of the emissions and discharges performance metric, shedding light on Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Waste Disposal as well as total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

It is important to note that protecting the environment is not just the right thing to do, but an absolute expectation, showcasing a growing importance in helping the GCC countries achieve their national targets and visions. Recent and upcoming legislations and regulatory frameworks are becoming more influential in making environmental performance a requirement for a company’s license to operate. After collecting and reporting on key aspects of the chemical industry’s environmental performance, in practice, we’ve realized the size of the region’s environmental footprint and were able to benchmark against international peer associations to understand the best practices and way(s) to reduce it.

Waste generation 

Our member companies report Hazardous and Non-Hazardous waste based on the below definitions:

Hazardous waste:

Waste that because of its toxic, infectious, radioactive or flammable properties poses an actual or potential hazard to the health of humans, other living organisms, or the environment. Amounts are to be reported according to national definitions. UN definitions are also available at or EPA.

Non-Hazardous waste:

Waste not classified as hazardous. Non-hazardous waste is generally defined by the national laws and regulations. If no national standards exist, the United Nations definitions can be used.

In 2020, GPCA RC companies reported that the hazardous waste generated has increased slightly by 1%, when compared to the previous year. However, when compared to a 7-year average (2013-2019), the trend is encouraging as the decrease is a substantial 19%.

In comparison, non-hazardous waste generated by member companies has decreased in 2020 by a substantial margin of 27% when compared to 2019. This reduction is partly due to COVID-19 related concerns. All planned turnarounds were postponed, and plants were running under normal operations, thus limiting waste generation in the year 2020.

The longer-term trend is even more impressive. The non-hazardous waste generation has reduced by 50% in the year 2020 when compared to the 7 years’ average (2013-2019). The performance is note-worthy, considering that this decreasing waste generation trend has been achieved despite a 54% increase in production from 2013 to 2020 across GCC’s RC companies.

Total GHG emissions

GHGs as identified by GPCA are, Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxides (N2O), hydro fluoro carbons (HFC), per fluoro carbons (PFC), and sulfur hexa fluoride (SF6). Total GHG emissions are reported in equivalent metric tons of CO2.

From a long-term perspective, there has not been any significant reduction in GHG emissions (in tons of CO₂e) in the region. In fact, compared to a 7-year average (2013-2019), the GHG emissions in 2020 showed a 4% increase. GHG emissions did decrease in the year 2020 by a modest 1% compared to year 2019, however more needs to be done to achieve great impact.

Environmental protection through Responsible Care®

GPCA member companies’ efforts towards a clean environment are derived from their commitment towards the core values of Responsible Care®. We are sharing some success stories from our members focusing on environmental protection. These success stories help inspire and drive sustainability efforts forward and support green targets and initiatives. This is critical to inspire chemical producers in the region to adopt successful and sustainable environmental approach to chemical production.

In order to identify success, GPCA member companies have begun to measure their progress and compare the results both within the GPCA community and against peers in other parts of the world. This has encouraged, overtime, greater transparency and sharing of information among GPCA member companies, despite the competitive nature of the industry. A number of member companies’ success stories are included in the upcoming Performance Metrics Report due to be released soon.

Way forward

GPCA members are committed sustainability and continuously improving their performance by stabilizing the processes at their operations and cross implementing members’ success stories where applicable.

GPCA and the Responsible Care® community look forward to another successful year, with sustainability firmly placed at the core of the chemical industry’s operations, and more continuous improvements across the various metrics.