Supporting chemical supply in uncertain times

Tim Doggett, CEO of the Chemical Business Association (CBA), continues a short series of articles explaining how the CBA works on behalf of the sector, representing its interests at the highest levels while delivering expert, practical support to both members and the extended chemical supply chain

CBA supporting chemical supply

Critical situation

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is bringing further disruption to an EU chemical supply chain still buffeted by the impact of Brexit and the pandemic. Combined, these unprecedented events leave the industry facing uncertainty and long-lasting challenges that also affect customers and end-users.

For the chemical, mineral, pharmaceutical, food grade and petrochemical supply chains already facing disruption and changes to regulation, the conflict in Ukraine and international sanctions make the situation even more critical.

Hampered by a lack of HGV drivers, ongoing Covid travel restrictions, recent issues with ferry operators and the need to adapt to changes in regulation, bureaucracy and paperwork, bulk transport between the EU and UK is increasingly challenging.

Indeed, UK REACH and the divergence of UK and EU regulations may pose even more significant problems. If some of the chemicals that British industries rely on become commercially unviable or prohibited, it could potentially take some products out of markets altogether.

Lobbying on the industry’s behalf

As the voice of the UK chemical supply chain, the CBA represents a wide range of businesses from distributors and traders to manufacturers and blenders, as well as logistics and service providers. The majority of these are small or medium-sized enterprises.

One of the CBA’s chief roles is to lobby on behalf of its members; something it does not just in the UK and EU but around the globe. With the UK government, for example, it has consistently raised concerns about UK REACH’s practicality, workability and compliance requirements, while also taking the lead on the HGV driver shortage. As a result, Defra is to consult on extending the UK REACH deadlines and will consider a new, more workable and affordable model, and several short and medium-term remedies have been effectively implemented to help address the HGV driver shortage.

The CBA has long-established relationships with legislators and regulators in London and Brussels and works closely with various national chemical industry associations across Europe, including playing an active role in the International Chemical Trade Association (ICTA). Aside from lobbying and acting as an advocate for companies, its status within the sector means it is often asked to provide support and guidance to various organisations across the UK, EU and internationally, including to governments and executive bodies, such as the DfT, DIT and the Health and Safety Executive.

The CBA also has a long history of collaborating with other organisations and stakeholders. For example, it is a member of the Alliance of Chemical Associations (ACA) and has worked on issues of mutual interest with the BCF (British Coatings Federation) and the CIA (Chemical Industries Association). It also makes regular appearances on national TV channels, like the BBC and ITV, to raise the profile of issues affecting the industry.

Practical support

With almost a century of experience and a wealth of in-house expertise, the CBA can provide practical support to UK businesses on a broad range of areas, including helping members understand EU transport and the ongoing changes to import and export rules, as well as post-Brexit bureaucracy and paperwork.

A vital part of that support comes in the form of in-person and online training, with the organisation now offering an established workshop programme that covers compliance, regulations, security and best practice. Topics can range from emergency response and chemical warehousing to transport and site security, providing value and benefit to members and non-members alike.

Compliance support is a fundamental part of the CBA’s role. It provides businesses with key information to maintain compliance within the regulatory and legislative framework, ensuring they are kept fully briefed and helping them to minimise compliance costs. As part of its support, it runs Regulatory Compliance Update meetings within its regular Member Engagement days and which are invaluable to members, ensuring they stay up to date with current legislation and can plan for the future. The CBA is also committed to providing Compliance on Demand, enabling members to nominate topics not already included in the annual workshop programme. Additionally, as companies often have individual training requirements, tailored workshops can be delivered to cater for those needs and at locations to suit.

With qualified dangerous goods safety advisers (DGSAs) as part of its team, the CBA also provides in-house and online training on the roles and responsibilities of the carriage of dangerous goods, including supporting DGSAs taking the exams and organisations recruiting or appointing their own DGSA.

To provide ongoing, day to day support, the association has a dedicated help desk where assistance can be sought on a wide range of topics, including customs formalities and technical matters. The rapidly changing national and global environment has seen demand for this service increase significantly over the last few years.

Commitment to sustainability

The CBA is committed to helping the chemical supply chain become more sustainable. It has produced guidance on climate change in partnership with the CIA and the Non-Ferrous Alliance (NFA) and, in association with other organisations, developed new waste packaging supplementary guidance within the scope of the European Waste Framework Directive. This includes a structured approach to developing a climate change risk assessment and action plan for chemical, pharmaceutical and other COMAH businesses.

For almost 30 years, the CBA has been actively involved with the Responsible Care Programme. Going beyond legislative and regulatory requirements, this global, voluntary initiative provides an ethical framework for the safe use and handling of chemical products and seeks to deliver continual improvements in health, safety, security and environmental performance across the industry.

With ongoing disruption and issues around compliance, regulation, sustainability and more, the Chemical Business Association continues to offer members essential support in uncertain times.