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Building a sustainable future

Child on rope

Our HSSE activities in support of solvents are fully aligned with the Shell Chemicals HSSE Policy.

However, HSSE is just one strand of our wider commitment to sustainable development. At the heart of sustainable development is the simple idea of securing a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come, while achieving a stable economic environment. Businesses alone cannot create a sustainable future, but they have an important role to play.

The contribution of the Shell Chemicals Solvents organisation to sustainable development begins with our participation in Responsible Care and the delivery of product stewardship. In these and other ways we intend to continue to contribute fully, as a member of society, to sustainable development.

Safe solvents handling video

To support the sustainable and responsible use of solvents, ESIG (European Solvents Industry Group) and the SIA (Solvents Industry Association) have produced a video to strengthen the safe handling of solvents.

View the 'Safe handling of solvents' video


Responsible Care

Around the globe, Shell chemicals companies participate in the Responsible Care programmes in different countries.

Responsible Care is the chemical industry's health, safety and environment performance improvement initiative, pioneered in the late 1980s by the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association (CCPA). From the outset, Shell has been a strong supporter of the initiative and its ethic.

Today, the global chemicals industry, as represented by the International Chemical Council Association (ICCA), is committed to promoting Responsible Care. As a result, the principles of Responsible Care are being implemented in over 50 countries around the world. Shell chemicals companies are playing their part in this programme, having signed up to the Responsible Care Global Charter in February 2006.

To view an outline of ACC's Responsible Care activities link to an explanatory  American Chemistry Council brochure

Product Stewardship employee checking Phenol pipeline

Product stewardship is our commitment to ensuring that all aspects of our solvents products are managed responsibly and ethically.

It involves understanding the HSSE impacts of our products - throughout their lifecycle - on employees, customers and consumers. This includes identifying and managing any unacceptable risks associated with the development, manufacture, distribution, use, and disposal of our products.

In the Shell Chemicals Solvents organisation, our product stewardship programme reaches beyond the safe use and handling of solvents. It is a comprehensive initiative that includes participation in research activities and engaging with both the public at a local level and regulators. We have resources world wide that carry product stewardship out to local customers, communities and governments. 

An example of the information you will find in the Customer Lounge is the latest guide from the American Chemistry Council on solvent flammability, titled 'Working with modern hydrocarbon and oxygenated solvents: a guide to flammability.'  

ESIG Best Practice Guideline: Safe use of gloves for the handling of solvents

Activity with industry associations

Shell Solvents participates in and is often the driving force behind industry associations that defend and promote the safe use of solvents. This activity raises awareness and understanding of issues related to product stewardship, to the safe handling of solvents during manufacture, and to the application of solvent-based products.

In Europe, the European Solvents Industry Group (ESIG) was established to provide a single point of contact for information on oxygenated and hydrocarbon solvents. Through its membership of 32 major European producers, and by working with industry partners and solvents users, the group cultivates best practice in solvent usage and health, safety and environment protection. 

For an overview of chemical industry groups around the world, link to the ICCA website.

In the US, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the chemical industry on public policy issues, coordinates research and testing programmes and administers the industry's Responsible Care health, safety, and environmental performance improvement initiative. Access a brochure on ACC's Responsible Care initiative.

If you are a customer and would like to know more about our product stewardship programme, please log in to the Customer Lounge (go via the homepage) and access the HSSE/Technical area.

Man spray painting structure

Solvents can be used safely in a wide range of applications, due to their generally low toxicity and easily-implemented safety procedures. These procedures range from ensuring adequate ventilation, by opening windows and doors, to more complex industrial procedures.

Advice on the safe handling and use of solvents is part of the chemical industry's commitment to Responsible Care, which focuses on the continual improvement of safety, health and environmental performance.

Material safety data sheets

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are the primary source of health and safety information on our products.

MSDS provide comprehensive safety and health information, including signs and symptoms of exposure, first aid, occupational exposure limits, and personal protective equipment. MSDS also include regulatory information, toxicity and environmental information, and advice on handling, storage and transportation.

Search for a Shell Chemicals MSDS

Clouds in a blue sky

The Shell Chemicals Solvents organisation is committed to protecting the environment.

As part of our commitment to sustainable development, we place great importance on minimising our products' impact on the environment, both now and in the future.

As solvents are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), they can contribute to ground level ozone formation under certain weather conditions (for example, on hot sunny days when there is stagnant or slow-moving air or a recirculation of polluted air) and in the presence of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

VOC-related regulations

The US and Europe are implementing stricter ozone standards and have in place, or are developing, extensive regulatory programmes to achieve those standards. There are several strategies for VOC reduction, including reformulation, using more efficient applications, or reducing emissions by capturing or recycling vapours. However, effective strategies to reduce ozone formation require taking other factors into account, including NOx levels, VOC levels and sources, geography and climate.

In Europe, a considerable amount of legislation has been developed over recent years to improve air quality. This includes the Solvents Emissions Directive, the National Emission Ceilings Directive, the Auto Oil program, the Integrated Pollution Prevention Control Directive (IPPC) and several national initiatives.

Link to the European Solvents Industry Group's fact sheet on Ozone Air Quality, which provides an assessment of the contribution of solvent VOCs to future ozone reduction.

For further information on the Solvents Emissions Directive follow the link in the 'related websites'box (right) or visit the ESIG website.

In the US, VOC-related legislation includes the Clean Air Act and 1990 amendments. Canada and Australia have also implemented ozone standards and associated regulations.

For the list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) contained in the Clean Air Act please follow the link in the 'related websites' box (right) to the HAP section on the EPA website.

Other environmental impacts

Solvents play only a negligible role in global warming, compared to other contributory factors and no role of significance in stratospheric ozone depletion (our portfolio does not include chlorinated or fluorinated solvents anyway) or secondary aerosol formation. VOCs from vegetation sources tend to be more reactive and are most important in the formation of secondary aerosols.

The Shell Chemicals Solvents organisation is committed to scientifically sound improvements of our environment. We take an active role in making sure that the legislative processes use sound science and take cost-effectiveness into account when creating new environmental laws. We are also active in supporting our customers with advice on the responsible use of our products.

If you are a customer and would like more information on air quality issues, please log in to the Customer Lounge (go via the homepage) and access the HSE/Technical area.