At the 2012 China Petroleum and Chemical International Conference in Tianjin held September 10–12, a key topic was the perception of China’s chemical industry by the public and building public trust over pollution and chemical health concerns.
The Chinese public is becoming increasingly active on environmental issues. Protests like the one in Dalian last year have led to the relocation of factories and the cancelling of industrial projects in Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces. At the conference representatives of China’s chemical industry said that the public perception needs to be dealt with better. On the one hand, media coverage of chemical issues is not balanced: industry does not communicate well enough with the public and the media and have to take responsibility for their own faults. “The issue here is the lack of transparent communication between the chemical industry and the public,” said Jin Yong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineers and professor in the department of chemical engineering at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.
On the other hand, Chinese chemical companies vary a lot in size and capability. While almost 100 % of the chemical factories in China’s 160 designated chemical industrial parks have signed up for the Responsible Care program, one hurdle for wider participation is the diversity of companies, from world-class facilities to older or smaller factories outside the parks. However, it is vital to get 100 % industry participation in such programs, because a small minority of problem companies can set the entire industry back.