A Brief History of Responsible Care

A Vision Born in Canada That’s Leading the World

In the 1980s, pressures to regulate Canada’s chemistry industry were growing, galvanized by spills, process safety, and transportation incidents in Canada and abroad.

Canada’s chemistry CEOs faced the facts: the public did not trust the industry. Building public trust would require something above and beyond the law: a commitment to doing the right thing.

Between 1985 and 1988, members of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (then known as the Canadian Chemical Producers’ Association) drafted the first Responsible Care® Codes – including stringent guidelines for the safe and environmentally sound management of chemicals. Those codes remained essentially unchanged for more than two decades.

But Responsible Care® did evolve. In 1992, CIAC members began voluntarily reporting their environmental emissions under Responsible Care®. A year later, CIAC introduced the Responsible Care® public verification process – inviting industry experts, public advocates and representatives from local communities to assess first-hand whether companies were living up to their commitments.

But as Responsible Care® neared its silver anniversary in 2010, members began asking whether the initiative was equipped to address public concerns about health, climate change, resource conservation, and the industry’s environmental footprint. CIAC’s Board of Directors endorsed a new Responsible Care® Ethic and Principles for Sustainability, and the Responsible Care® Codes were completely rewritten to reflect the more exacting sustainability standards that CIAC companies would be expected to live up to.

Since being launched in Canada more than 25 years ago, Responsible Care® has expanded into a global movement, now practised in more than 60 countries around the world, and overseen by the International Council of Chemical Associations.