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Wrapping up the 6th Cycle, Ready for the Next

The next phase of NACD Responsible Distribution® starts in January 2020, drawing a close to the 6th Cycle of the three-year mandatory verification program.

Since its launch in 1991, the long-running initiative has pushed for continuous improvement and adapted to an increasingly competitive and demanding marketplace. Responsible Distribution has grown to become the industry’s benchmark for practices of excellence, ensuring NACD members consistently meet high environmental, health, safety, and security principles.

Although there are no wholesale changes planned for the seventh iteration, the next cycle will continue to build on the achievements of the past three years, says Caroline (Kramer) Brooks, Manager of Responsible Distribution.

NACD is committed to helping members navigate the various codes and guidelines, and has created a huge pool of resources including guides, workshops, and webinars.

“This has been a really successful cycle,” says Brooks. “NACD and our members are always striving for continuous improvement and we want to make sure the program gets stronger as the industry evolves. Responsible Distribution is the industry’s premier management system and it’s important we keep pace with what’s happening in the chemical supply chain and make sure we’re meeting those high expectations.”

“The next cycle is fairly similar to the 6th,” she notes. “There are no new specifications being added. However, we have consolidated Codes VI (Waste Management and Resource Conservation) and Code VIII (Community Outreach) from three down to two specifications each, clarified some language in a few of the areas, as well as provided some additional guidance and examples of conformance of our materials.”

Among the most notable changes is the transition of long-standing Responsible Distribution Mentor, Doug Kutz, who will soon be passing the baton to his successor Jim Benning, formerly of Hubbard-Hall Inc. Benning will draw on his extensive experience in the industry, bringing his insight and a fresh perspective to the role, she says.

Although he is due to officially take over early in the new year, the formal handover is already well underway. “Doug has been a great mentor and a valuable resource for our members, helping them with the implementation of their programs,” says Brooks. “Jim and Doug have been working together, as demonstrated by their joint participation in the one-on-one consultation meetings during ChemEdge and the upcoming Annual Meeting.”

The role of mentor has become a highly-valued resource for NACD candidates, members, and Affiliates, and helps to ensure the smooth running of the program.

Mentor assistance is also available via phone or email. Many companies who have just started their Responsible Distribution journey and are yet to get the verification process underway can call on the mentor and request a site visit for guidance through their first steps of the candidacy program.

The Responsible Distribution team is always on-hand for advice and guidance as well, she adds.

“We try to get out on the road as much as we possibly can and attend verifications as an observer just to make sure the program is being run consistently. This year we’ve visited 17 members’ sites and we anticipate doing much more going forward.”

Understanding the complexities of Responsible Distribution is made simpler thanks to the huge range of resources available – something the team has continued to add to and enhance, adds Brooks.

There have been five in-person training events this year alone, including the hugely-popular spring workshop in Atlanta, Georgia, and another in Louisville, Kentucky, in August.

“We noticed some members had been struggling with their internal audits so we also hosted a special one-day training session dedicated to the topic and then made all those resources available to our members online too. This is something we’re considering again in the next cycle as well.”

New candidacy class training sessions have also been introduced, she says. Not only has it has proven extremely popular with companies new to the program that are implementing Responsible Distribution for the first time, but it has also seen participation from existing members who have recently appointed a new Code Coordinator.

“In advance of the 7th Cycle, we’re also in the process of wrapping up some enhancements to our online Dashboard to make the tool more accessible. The Dashboard was new to the 6th Cycle and as we’ve gone through the growing pains and used it for the first time, we noticed there were some areas that could be improved.”

The 7th Cycle Dashboard is due to go live this Fall so members can familiarize themselves with the new features and functionality, as well as begin to enter the company summary information called “Company Overviews” ahead of schedule.

Newly-updated comparison guides have also just been added to the website, which place Responsible Distribution alongside other management systems such as ISO programs and American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care, and highlight where and how the various specifications and requirements overlap.

Another recent change has seen the Code Coordinator Manual refreshed and updated to make it more user friendly, says Brooks.

The Code Coordinator Manual remains the definitive guide to Responsible Distribution but running at over 100 pages, it can prove a little difficult to navigate. A new, more interactive and easy-to-read edition is due to be published on the NACD website.

It remains the go-to reference tool but now includes useful links to website resources, tutorials, and training videos – putting everything conveniently in one place.

The website now also provides an outline of the new 7th Cycle specifications and requirements.

The Specifications and Guidance document (Appendix A of the Code Coordinator Manual) has also been updated in a similar manner. There are now call-out boxes containing the examples of conformance and helpful guidance information as well as icons to indicate if the specification is referencing the member company or site (warehouse).

Members are able to further develop their skills and knowledge by logging in to NACD U, the online training center that was launched this past cycle. More than 22 Responsible Distribution offerings are now available that provide a program overview as well as run through each of Responsible Distribution’s 13 Codes of Management Practice.

Certainly, the program, which celebrates its third decade during the next cycle, continues to go from strength to strength, providing the cornerstone for the chemical distribution sector.

To find out more about Responsible Distribution and access these resources, visit:


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