Responsible Care/ Responsible Distribution

Responsible Care/ Responsible Distribution is a worldwide initiative of the chemical sector to address public concerns about the manufacture, distribution and use of chemicals.

annual growth of
chemical distribution market
chemical substances
on the market
decrease of transport
incidents between
chemical distributors
with a Third Party Assessment
chemical distributors within
the ICTA community

Responsible Care/ Responsible Distribution

Responsible Care/ Responsible Distribution is the program through which the chemical supply chain works on major societal challenges, such as pollution, public health and sustainable development. RC/ RD companies commit themselves to continuously improving the environmental, health, safety and security performance of their operations and products. They also commit to reporting openly on their performance and to engaging with society. Responsible Care/ Responsible Distribution is both an ethic and a commitment intended to build trust and confidence in an industry that is essential to improving living standards and the quality of life. The Responsible Care/ Responsible Distribution program was launched in Canada in 1985 and has since developed into a truly global program that is active in 65 countries.


Chemical distribution and RC/RD

The Responsible Care program was initiated by the chemical manufacturing industry, but in 1995 the chemical distribution industry officially joined the program.
The distributor program allows for differences of approach, which has created the opportunity to tailor to local needs. As a result, the chemical distribution industry in North America has developed the Responsible Distribution program, while the elsewhere the Responsible Care program has been maintained.
Through ICTA the different RC/ RD programs are united and operationalized globally. The joint RC/ RD program requires national associations to incorporate the certain elements, while providing flexibility to adjust to local circumstances.

  ICTA RC/ RD program

The ICTA RC/ RD program requires a formal commitment from each participating CEO to the eight Guiding Principles. These eight principles are the core of the RC/ RD program:

  1. Legal requirements. Conform with all legal regulations and requirements and should operate in accordance with both government and industry codes of practice and guidance associated with their chemical activities.

  2. Management of risk. Ensue that their activities do not present an unacceptable level of risk to employees, contractors, customers, the public or the environment.

  3. Policies and documentation. Have written documentation, which covers their activities, and ensure that their health, safety, security and environmental policies reflect their commitment to A Joint Responsible Distribution/Responsible Care Program as an integral part of their business strategy.

  4. Provision of information. Provide relevant health, safety, security and environmental information on company products and activities to employees, contractors, customers, statutory bodies and the public.

  5. Training. Ensure that all employees are aware of their commitment and provide the training necessary to enable them to be involved in the achievement of health, safety, security and environmental objectives.

  6. Emergency response. Establish and maintain an appropriate emergency response system.

  7. Ongoing improvements. Support and participate in those activities that will improve the quality of their own operations and strengthen health, safety, security and environmental consciousness and awareness.

  8. Community interaction. Maintain an awareness of and respond to community concerns that relate to their activities.

  Responsible Care and distributor associations

While the focus of the RC/ RD program lies with the chemical distribution companies, it is the responsibility of the national associations to make the program fully operational in their country. This means that they must develop guidance documents and checklists to assist their member companies to implement RC/ RD. The associations must also organize meetings at which members can share views and exchange experiences. Moreover the associations must report on the performance based on useful indicators. They must also cooperate with government and civil society to address their concerns and develop effective regulation.

  Independent third party assessment

A crucial contribution of the RC/ RD program is that is creates an incentive for validating the implementation of the key elements of the program. Through such a Third Party Verification by a independent third party assessment, companies receive honest feedback on their performance.
A supplementary RC/RD Third Party Verified logo can be awarded to member companies who have:

  • Undertaken an independent, third party assessment of the company’s commitment to RC/RD (for example RD or ESAD ll); and
  • Given permission for the ICTA Member Association and/ or a verification body to access the assessment report, to enable validation of compliance with the RC/RD program.

ICCA Partnership

ICTA and ICCA work together to further improve global chemicals management. By cooperating, chemical manufacturers and chemical distributors improve the safety and security of chemical supply chains for both people and planet. The efforts focus on improving the chemicals management in less-developed countries by providing technical support and sharing knowledge and expertise. ICTA and ICCA cooperate with local governments, international organizations and other industry associations.
ICTA and ICCA work on issues concerning human health, security and the environment through their joint Responsible Care and Responsible Distribution programs. Already in March 2009 ICTA and ICCA signed an agreement to formally cooperate on programs and since then cooperation has continued to grow. In 2018 ICTA and ICCA renewed their mutual commitment by signing a new memorandum of understanding.


Responsible Care is an inspiring model of self-regulation that
other industries should consider following

Kofi Anan, former Secretary General of the UN