Product responsibility

At Birla Carbon, all growth depends on sustainability, and we believe it is our responsibility to manage product quality and reduce its impact on people and the environment.

Our approach to product responsibility is divided into two key focus areas: safety and stewardship. By safety, we understand that it is of utmost importance that our carbon black is made safely for our customers’ specific use. At the same time, product stewardship ensures all our people understand exactly how our carbon black is made and their role in its safe manufacturing. It is important that we help our customers handle and use carbon black effectively and safely, and that we act responsibly across the entire value chain.

How do we create safe products?

Our customers rely on us to produce safe carbon black for their own use. We ensure that our products meet and exceed all regulatory requirements. We also remain abreast of any regulatory or market developments, enabling us to support our customers in meeting their own regulatory obligations.

We thoroughly test our carbon black to ensure that it surpasses health, safety and environmental requirements and is a high-quality product.

Product responsibility across the value chain

We divide our value chain into four areas:

Carbon extraction, refinement and transportation

Carbon extraction, refinement and transportation
Extraction and refinement

Extraction and refinement:

This carbon feedstock sourcing stage is not controlled by Birla Carbon. We expect our suppliers to maintain the highest ethical and environmental standards in their activities.

Transportation

Transportation:

We have health, safety and quality controls in place for handling all raw materials.

Manufacturing process

Manufacturing Process Head
Manufacturing Process
Reactor

Reactor:

State-of-the-art technology enhances production efficiency.

Baghouse

Baghouse:

The best possible control of emissions and the containment of our carbon black powder is ensured through the use of the most advanced filter bags.

Rotary Dryer

Rotary dryer:

Strict product testing is conducted at this stage to meet customer specifications and safety standards.

Bulk Storage

Bulk storage:

Once customer requirements have been met, the product is directed to specific silos and later shipped.

Transportation to customers

Transportation to customers
Shipping

Shipping:

Before shipment to our customers, the carbon black is further tested by our quality department, which generates a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) to guarantee product quality.

End product

End Product
Customer Sites

Customer sites:

Our Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are continuously updated and provided in over 25 languages. Specific product safety documentation is supplied to customers on request.

Investing in health and safety

We ensure that our internal and external customers are fully informed about the safety of our products, focusing on product characteristics, safe, effective and approved uses, and health and environmental risks. Any information gaps are proactively identified for each product through our testing program.

All business areas contribute to continuing the consistency and compliance of our carbon black from a product stewardship perspective, offering input as to what can be improved.

Enhancing customer understanding

Customers and end consumers want to understand more about carbon black. Our customers can access up-to-date and accurate information through safety data sheets (SDSs), labels and generic statements.

Our SDSs are publicly available online. Based on feedback from internal customers, we have improved access to regulatory documents and product letters, so that more of our employees around the world can readily access the information they need. We are now looking at opportunities to provide access to these documents to our distributors.

We respond to direct queries from our stakeholders. In FY2018, Birla Carbon received over 1,400 queries related to product safety and compliance with specific environmental or food contact regulations. In 99% of cases we sent an initial response within one business day. We also continuously educate our sales and distribution network about carbon black product safety and its regulated applications. In FY2018, we conducted training for key distributors in Europe and Asia, as well as for our sales groups across the globe. The updated training was intended to help gain feedback from customers (internal and external) about what we could do to improve.

Product stewardship

We continue to build a product stewardship culture in our operations by creating an environment in which our people feel able to seek advice and support. We encourage employees to stop, think and ask about what they’re doing before and during process development and production changes.

We began rolling out our Product Stewardship Standard (the Standard) in FY2016 and it is now active in 100% of our sites. The Standard requires enhanced testing intervals for all products and provides a robust description of which actions trigger product retesting at a manufacturing site. Each site is required to send samples of the carbon black they are producing to our world-class laboratory in Marietta, USA, where samples are logged into the laboratory information management system (LIMS), ensuring full traceability.

The Standard is applied on-site by our Product Stewards who monitor progress and employee training through annual self-assessments. The Stewards participate in regional Product Stewardship Committees, which report to a Global Product Stewardship Steering Committee. To effectively benefit from the Standard, our Management of Change Standard ensures we formally document any changes that would potentially impact our product.

In FY2018, we approved a project to automate SDS distribution, which will help to ensure continued compliance and increased efficiency across our global operations. The project will be implemented in FY2019.

Reducing PAH content through collaboration

In recent years, the team at our Santander plant in Spain has been working in collaboration with Granada University to certify lower polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) grades of carbon black, in response to regulatory drivers and to meet our customers’ needs. Based on current research, some PAHs are considered carcinogenic by various regulatory authorities and there is increasing regulation over their use in a wide range of finished articles.

Students from the university have been working as interns at the plant to support the project while continuing with their master’s studies in rubber chemistry. To date, the team has successfully certified six grades of carbon black for low PAH content, including one destined for regulated food contact applications.

  • Product stewardship

Decent work and economic growth

Carbon black ensures greater resource efficiency, which in turn promotes economic growth.

Responsible consumption and production

Carbon black helps society become more efficient in its use of resources, facilitating consumption and production.

Partnerships for the goals

We help achieve the goals by working closely with our stakeholders, particularly our customers.

Over 2,000 tests related to food contact and other requirements performed on our product.