I really don’t like introducing myself. Invariably when I introduce myself as the Product Stewardship Director, I am met with a polite nod and the “I-have-no-idea-what-that-means” look.
I see you nodding knowingly. Allow me to demystify “Product Stewardship.”
Product Stewardship is a discipline focused on ensuring that chemical products are safe for their intended end use, meet all applicable chemical regulations in all countries in which we do business, and are stored, transported, used and disposed of properly.
This entails product stewardship oversight at every stage of a product’s life-cycle as follows:
R&D > Product Commercialization > Sales > Storage & Transportation > Use > Disposal
In the last decade, a dramatic increase in societal demand for safer, “greener,” more sustainable products – coupled with technological advances in chemical and toxicology testing – has resulted in a proliferation of chemical regulations globally. Here’s a specific case in point: the number of chemical regulations increased from 2,000 to 12,000 (globally) between 2003 and 2016.
While that may mean job security for me and my colleagues, it adds operational complexity and cost to chemical manufacturers like Celanese. For example, in this dynamic regulatory landscape, raw material sourcing decisions should factor in not only freight cost and lead time, but also emerging chemical regulations that may ban or restrict its use in certain markets and countries. Similarly, commercial growth plans must take into account country-specific chemical regulations that may require costly but mandatory product registrations.
Companies that do not address these realities proactively through a robust Product Stewardship program face business risks, such as delays in product launches, loss of market segments, customer dissatisfaction, noncompliance fines, government restrictions on product manufacturing and sales, increased litigation, and erosion of corporate reputation. That’s why Product Stewardship’s first priority is managing regulatory and risk aspects to make sure our materials are compliant with the laws where our products are sold.
When executed well, Product Stewardship can be a business enabler by safeguarding compliance, corporate reputation, stock value and a company’s brand.
So the next time we see each other, I look forward to introducing myself as your friend from the Product Stewardship team who helps our products move all around the world safely and securely to responsibly meet our customers’ needs.