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Responsible Care: Public opinion

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The general public was the most important of 10 key audiences CMA identified as "critical to [Responsible Care's] success." (view entire document) In 1990, CMA feared that "positive [public] opinion about the industry was deteriorating so rapidly that there was 'a closing window of opportunity'. . . which necessitated immediate action." (view entire document)

Internally, CMA's goals for Responsible Care were "measurable improvement" in the percentage of the American public who felt the chemical industry "is more environmentally conscious and responsible" and "is more open, honest, [and] communicative with the public." But the underlying motive of these goals was to achieve "a slowing in public desire for [tougher] regulation." (view entire document) Even CMA realized that, at least in the short term, actually gaining the public's trust was asking too much considering the industry's record. According to a 1990 CMA memo, "We don't expect the public to trust us, we ask them to track us." (view entire document) But the program has never provided any means by which such "tracking" might be performed.

CMA made commitment to Responsible Care a condition of membership in the Association. Detailed processes were devised for determining whether companies were meeting their self-defined commitment, though there is no evidence that any companies were ever "disassociated" with CMA as a consequence of non-compliance. (view entire document)

Responsible Care was funded by fees from member companies based on a small percentage of their annual chemical sales. CMA also offered membership in Responsible Care to "Partner Associations," such as state chemical industry groups, and "Partner Companies" that did not belong to CMA but dealt with chemicals. Fees for partner associations were a flat $5,000 a year, but in 1991 annual fees for partner companies were raised sharply, to $82,400 or more for the largest firms. (view entire document)

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last updated: march.27.2009

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