During 2010, the Product Stewardship & Regulatory Affairs core team strengthened a number of our product stewardship requirements – to support the development of a greater sustainable product culture and ensure that our substances and products can be used by all stakeholders in a safe and cost effective manner.
The team has developed strategies to replace major product liabilities from our portfolio, and policies to enable the company to position itself favorably against our leading competitors. An example is our new animal welfare policy, which clearly indicates our commitment to minimizing the use of animal testing, but without losing our ability to run such studies when they are clearly necessary.
Based on major changes in substance classification, we have updated the mechanism for defining substances of high concern within the portfolio. All substances that are classified according to the new UN globally harmonized System of Classification and Labeling, GHS, will fall under the category of “substance of concern”. There is then a mechanism to prioritize substances with the highest degree of concern – a simple risk assessment to verify that concern – and, if required, a more robust lifecycle assessment to determine next steps. Specific plans are being developed for lead, chromate, cobalt and silica compounds.
In order to meet our legal obligations, AkzoNobel continues to devote considerable resources to ensure that all substances and products can be manufactured and marketed in all countries where we operate. A number of substances have been registered with the European Chemicals Agency as defined by the first phase of the EU REACH regulations. To date, we have achieved the required submissions according to the specified requirements. We have continually tracked the work of our key raw materials suppliers and in a few cases we have taken special steps to ensure continued availability. Work to implement the GHS requirements in different parts of the world has continued.
We have initiated a number of new advocacy activities aimed at a more harmonised manner of introducing new legislation. Initiatives in countries such as China, the US, Malaysia, Taiwan and Turkey have shown supportive outcomes. Overall, AkzoNobel continues to ensure that all its substances and products are produced and marketed in accordance with all prerequisite legal requirements. Furthermore, we continuously strive to ensure that our substances and products are developed, manufactured and marketed in a manner that supports their long-term sustainable use.
We are also increasing our attention on the distribution aspect of product stewardship. There were 91 distribution incidents during 2010 involving the transport of our product by road (82), sea (5) and rail (4) (see also the ).
We have been working actively with sourcing groups in emerging countries to improve the safety performance of contract distribution companies. In China, specific guidance on the content and follow-up of these distribution contracts has been prepared and implemented.