Posted on: February 9, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

Chemicals production, use and waste increasingly burden African health, safety and environment, due to skills and capacity gaps.

Recent chemicals incidents include toxic waste dumping in Cote d’Ivoire, mass lead poisoning in Senegal and Nigeria, and an abandoned pesticide depot in Somalia, said David Kapindula of the Zambia-based Africa Regional Focal Point for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

There has not been enough progress in implementing the international SAICM policy framework in the African region, said Kapindula at a Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) workshop on Product Stewardship during the SA Chemical Institute Convention (SACI) at Wits University in Johannesburg.

SAICM seeks to achieve the goal set by the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) that by 2020 “chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimisation of significant adverse affects on human health and environment.”

Product Stewardship is the chemical industry’s key mechanism for managing safety, health and environmental performance, and an important pillar of Responsible Care, said CAIA executive director, Dr Laurraine Lotter.

The workshop assisted chemicals producers in Africa to design and implement product stewardship programmes, based on a management systems approach.

“In the International Year of Chemistry, 2011, we encourage chemicals, transport, retail and waste industries to take special action to ensure that chemicals are manufactured, transported, used and disposed of in a safe and responsible manner,” Dr Lotter said.

Chemicals workshop themes

A Product Stewardship workshop was part of the Federation of African Societies of Chemistry congress in Johannesburg.

The FAS event was co-located with the SA Chemical Institute (SACI) convention. Presentations included ‘African Priorities for implementing a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management’, by David Kapindula, SAICM regional focal point for Africa; ‘Components of a corporate Product Stewardship Programme’ by Joh Hyman, product stewardship manager at Sasol Solvents, and ‘Specific Product Stewardship Requirements for Hazardous Chemicals’ by Danie Opperman, senior scientist at Sasol Technology.

Workshop themes included RC, design and implementation of product stewardship programs built on a management systems approach, requirements for hazardous chemicals, implementation of the Globally Harmonised System for the Classification of Chemicals, and African priorities for implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

Chemicals conventions

Relevant international codes implemented in South Africa and some other African countries, include the Stockholm Convention, Basel Convention, Rotterdam Convention, Chemical Weapons Convention, Montreal Protocol and UN Convention against Illicit narcotics.

PHOTO; CAIA executive director, Dr Laurraine Lotter.

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