Chemicals and waste: bringing about change in Argentina


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It is a humid and somewhat hot morning in the city of Zárate, located 85 km away from the capital, Buenos Aires. The industrial park emerges from the landscape. Stunning masses of concrete standing out between large green spaces, nourished by vegetation and bathed by the waters of the Paraná River. Nature and industry have coexisted for decades, when the land was, mostly, a sparsely populated area of ​​quintas, small farms, squares and dirt roads.

Given the fast pace of industrial growth, the city and its surroundings became increasingly populated. Factories in the chemical sector played a significant role in this development, particularly since the 1960s. In the imposing plant, which has a long history in the region, the daily working methods show how chemicals management can be ecologically sustainable and socially responsible, at a time when this issue is at the heart of the international agenda.

“It is vital for us to consolidate our environmental programme,” says Chemical Engineer Diego Yeste, Safety and Environment Manager of Alpek Polyester Group. “That is why we constantly renew our sustainability goals.”

“In our plant, all the risks associated with chemicals that are used here are included in their safety data sheets, as outlined in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) already in force in our country.” In Argentina, the Globally Harmonized System has been mandatory in the workplace since 2015.

The Argentine chemical industry, the second most important industry in South America after Brazil, contributes 12.3 per cent of the gross domestic product of the local manufacturing industry, employing 110,000 people directly in over 70 per cent of small and medium-sized companies of the sector. Upon consultation on the importance of the discussion concerning chemicals and waste management, Rolando García Valverde, Manager of the Responsible Care and Sustainable Development at the Chamber of the Chemical and Petrochemical Industry, stated that: “Chemical companies work hard to manage their products in order to sustainably preserve human health and the environment, with a strong local, regional and global commitment, supporting the initiatives that make up the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).”

CONTINUE READING ON www.unenvironment.org

                   

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