Environment, Self-Regulation, and the Chemical Industry: Assessing Responsible Care



    Corresponding author
    1. currently a Professor of Law and Director of the Australian Centre for Environmental Law at the Australian National University, Canberra. He has written extensively on issues of regulation, occupational health and safety, and the environment. His current work seeks to identify the comparative advantage of different regulatory instruments in different institutional, economic, and social contexts, and focuses particularly on issues of environmental protection.
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  • *This is a project supported by a grant from the Australian Criminology Research Council. The views expressed are the responsibility of the author and are not necessarily those of the Council. The author gratefully acknowledges the research assistance of Sophie Dawson, Rachel Pepper, and Marian Moss, and the critical comments on an earlier draft of Professor Mark Tweeddale, executive director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Risk and Rehability Engineering, University of Sydney, and a former member of the National Community Advisory Panel of Responsible Care.

**Neil Gunningham, Director, Australian Centre for Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.


This study examines the role of self-regulation as a strategy for environment protection. In particular it explores the chemical industry's Responsible Care Program. Responsible Care is afar-reaching and sophisticated self-regulatory scheme intended to reduce chemical accidents and pollution, to build industry credibility through improved performance and increased communication, and to involve the community in decision making.

The study identifies the collective action problems and other weaknesses of Responsible Care and argues that a more effective approach to environmental regulation of the chemical industry would be tripartite, involving co-regulation and a range of third party oversight mechanisms.