For several years Rotem has been integrating some novel and effective "Product Stewardship" methodologies into its operations as part of its efforts to increase its Sustainable Development activities. Recently, the ICL-F business unit was recognized for its efforts with a first ever excellence award by the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) to a fertilizer company following Rotem’s implementation of a unique and successful Product Stewardship pilot program.
Some background: Sustainable Development is broadly defined as taking into account organizations' current needs without harming the social, economic and environmental needs of future generations. In order to promote Sustainable Development activities, the chemical industry has voluntarily initiated and adopted a comprehensive program called “Responsible Care” that promotes the health and welfare of industry employees, safety, environmental quality, managerial responsibility for product life cycle, managerial ethics, transparency, communication with stakeholders and development support of society and community. Since 1985, while first establishment of Responsible Care till to date, 53 member-countries of the organization have signed the Responsible Care charter and adhere to its policies.
Product Stewardship is one of the key elements of the Responsible Care program. It mandates that a product must be managed throughout its life cycle (which includes development, engineering, raw materials purchases, production, packaging, transportation, distribution, marketing, sales, applications and end-of-life uses). Companies must take into account a variety of considerations throughout the product’s life cycle: safety, occupational health, environmental quality, security, community awareness, preparedness for emergency situations and regulation. (Rotem has added two additional considerations: emission of greenhouse gases and product quality).
The guiding principle is that companies must assume responsibility for all the elements involved in a product's value chain - suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, transporters and users - in an attempt to minimize negative environmental influences that might be found in each stage of the product's life cycle.
Back to Rotem: During the process of upgrading the quality of sulfur that it uses as a key raw material to manufacture sulfuric acid , management decided to apply a comprehensive set of Product Stewardship principles. Dani Chen, President & CEO of ICL Fertilizers, agreed to a request by the IFA that Rotem’s efforts serve as an international pilot test to demonstrate how a Product Stewardship program of this kind could be implemented.
The company developed a methodology using a matrix with product life stages on one axis and Product Stewardship “building bricks” on the other. Each “crossing” of a stage in product life with a building brick is examined through a series of interviews with key professionals in the field. Interviewers focused on localizing risks and evaluating the severity and probability of events, as well as reviewing existing activities to minimize risks and suggesting additional activities to further minimize them. To assist it in this endeavor, Rotem engaged an external company that conducted the interviews, collected information and analyzed results. Further stages in the program included classifying the level of responsibility of the client or the target country, defining a Product Stewardship Procedure and Policy and nominating Product Stewardship Manager.
The Result: In March 2011, the IFA, by DNV conducted an assessment at Rotem to determine the company's Product Stewardship preparedness resulting from this pilot test. Rotem scored an impressive 95% rating! IFA evaluators were impressed by the company’s achievement and highly praised it. As a result, Rotem became the first fertilizer company in the world to receive Product Stewardship qualification with honors from the IFA.
Rotem management is proud of its achievement and plans to implement this effective PS methodology for all its products over the next few years.
Product stewardship certification