Celebrating 50 years of supporting the chemical sector

Our 50th anniversary event

Held at the Royal Institute, this event was one of the biggest gatherings of senior leadership from the chemical industry combining the themes of regulatory, emergency response, sustainability and safety. 

Our journey

From our journey from NCEC to Ricardo, and our varied work across emergency response and regulatory compliance, we celebrated our 50 years in a lot of ways over 2023. 

From NCEC to Ricardo

We were established as the UK's National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC) in 1973 and became a part of Ricardo soon after.

Today, we are proud to continue to work with the Department for Transport (DfT) as the UK's NCEC, and offer our response and regulatory services along with Ricardo's safety, sustainability and engineering capabilities, which truly put us in the best place to continue supporting the chemical industry for the next 50 years. 

Till now, we have largely continued to operate under the NCEC brand. However, as the challenges the chemical industry faces diversify, so does the work we do support you with them. So to adjust how we approach and discuss these broader issues with you, the NCEC brand will take a back seat as we instead talk about Ricardo’s safety, sustainability and engineering capability within the chemical sector. Other than language though, very little will change. It’s the same team and we will continue to operate the UK’s (and some other jurisdictions) NCEC, and support our customers with the same capability we have done these last 50 years. Watch Minister Richard Holden's video message establishing how the DfT continues to put their trust in us here.

This transition of our own focuses on the intersection between our sustainable business and decarbonisation experience, our chemical policy through to compliance capability, and our chemical safety and response pedigree to truly support organisations like yours prepare for a safe and sustainable future.

Read below a message by Craig Thomson, Head of Chemical Risk at Ricardo, as he elaborates on how the challenges the chemical industry is facing are diversifying, and how our range of services align to this.

From NCEC to Ricardo
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Looking at the history and the future of the chemical sector

We are proud to have been supporting you all from our conception in 1973, and during 2023 we celebrated by not only discussing the past but also looking at how we will continue to support you for the next 50 years. 

This year we celebrated by hosting our 50th anniversary with knowledge leaders leading the charge of the advancement of the chemical industry. We also wrote, presented and recorded some key resources on both the history of chemical risk management and the present and future challenges the industry is grappling with. Below we highlight our learnings from our esteemed panel at the event and our resources from throughout 2023.

Learn how Ricardo can help your organisation

Insights from our 50th anniversary

High level overview

On 20 September 2023, Ricardo hosted the 50th anniversary celebration of NCEC at the historic venue of the Royal Institute in London. It was a day of celebrating our legacy as the UK’s National Chemical Emergency Centre but more importantly, our aim was to look forward to the next 50 years – through facilitated discussions and opportunities to share expertise – to address the challenges we face including our combined drive towards creating a more circular economy, one sustainability-minded decision at a time.  

We started with a thought-provoking keynote speech from Marco Mensink, Director General of the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), who explored the very real challenges ahead of us with an assessment of the responsibilities organisations may be faced with in the future.

As we looked to summarise the event, it was clear that the industry wants to achieve a balance between product sustainability and decarbonisation with business-oriented sustainability at its core. You want more proactive and transparent communication and everyone within the chemical supply chain wants increased collaboration with policymakers and guidance on the evolving regulatory landscape.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all panellists and delegates who joined us for our 50th celebrations – from chemical manufacturers, retailers, trade associations, business associations and safety experts. Every attendee had a huge impact on the day, and we really value the open and honest discussion about the future of chemicals. 

Read the full overview of the event here

Key insights from our panels and roundtables

We hosted various panel discussions from transition pathways and lifecycle thinking to the safety challenges around energy storage and decarbonisation policies at the event. Below we have summaries from three key panels for you:

Watch the full panel on practicing SSbd into lifecycle thinking

In conversation with: Julia Creasey, Croda's Group Sustainability Director and Hannah Lawrie, Ricardo's Global Sustainability Director

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Embedding the practices of Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) into lifecycle thinking/life cycle assessment

Watch now

Celebration throughout 2023

A roundup of all our activities in 2023

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Chemical incident series

In this series, we looked at some of the biggest chemical incidents over the last 50 years that have had long-lasting impacts on organisational safety, response and regulation.

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Deep dive into PFAS

We discussed why PFAS are such a ‘hot topic’, the evolving regulatory landscape around them and actions you will need to consider if you manufacture, supply or use PFAS in the EU


Upcoming REACH dossier challenges

In this webinar, we looked at the upcoming increase in REACH Evaluation Joint Action Plan compliance checks and what can you do to remain ahead of these changes.


Launched PAT

We launched the world's first Persistence Assessment Tool (PAT) completely free as part of our mission to make this world a safe and sustainable place!

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Hydrogen training at Hazmat 2023

We hosted our first in-person hydrogen training workshop at the public sector celebration of our 50 years - Hazmat 2023! Booking for Hazmat 2024 is now open if you would like to attend.

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Celebrated 40 years of Chemdata

2023 marked 40 years of Chemdata – our reliable and interactive chemical hazard database.

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Learnt how to optimise SDS

In this webinar, Ricardo along with LISAM looked at areas of simple improvement to an SDS to make on-scene response stronger and more effective.

Upcoming challenges for the chemical industry

We can help relieve the burden of remaining ahead of these challenges

Ricardo is uniquely positioned to support the chemical value chain throughout the entire product lifecycle. Our experts have in-depth knowledge of the sector including expertise in environmental chemistry and toxicology, chemical regulations and responsible product stewardship along with our wider services of carbon management, circular economy, net zero, renewable energy options, life cycle assessment tools, sustainability reporting, sustainable packaging, sustainable procurement and more

Our services

Our chemical experts provide unparalleled 24/7 support in dealing with incidents safely, helping you to respond quickly and effectively, minimising wider impacts and risk to people, the environment, assets and reputation.

Chemical emergency response

Using deep technical knowledge we enable our clients to develop progressive sustainability and ESG strategies, underpinned by powerful execution pathways.

ESG  strategy and reporting

An ESG strategy will help you to understand and respond to the risk and opportunities that will impact your company’s success and long-term value creation. ESG reporting provides a snapshot of the business’s impact in these three areas for investors, customers and wider stakeholders. 

ESG  strategy and reporting

Ricardo's horizon scanning tool performs a substance inventory check and identifies whether your substances appear on any global regulatory lists. It provides the results in a clear, easy-to-read report, where you can quickly determine the most recent status of your substances.

We provide innovative solutions tailored to your needs, supported by our specialists in energy systems, sustainability, carbon capture, sustainable transport, energy from waste, and more.

Renewable energy

Our deep scientific analysis is helping our clients develop more sustainable products and/or demonstrate their already impressive environmental credentials.

Life cycle assessment

Our chemical experts have a comprehensive understanding of all legislation relating to the manufacture, distribution, use, treatment and disposal of chemicals. As such, it is ideally placed to guide its clients through the complicated processes of maintaining regulatory compliance.

Understanding the hazards and risks of chemicals is a key part of responsible product stewardship and is essential to sustainable business and compliance with global chemical regulations.

PAT is a first of its kind tool to provide manufacturers and importers of chemical substances and products, regulators, and the scientific community with support and guidance to undertake complex persistence assessments of chemicals in the environment. It has been developed by our environmental chemistry and toxicology experts in conjunction with Concawe and the International Collaboration on Cosmetics Safety.

As part of Ricardo’s vision to create a safe and sustainable world, this tool is available for free.

Persistence Assessment Tool (PAT)

Whether you are just starting to plan your journey to net zero, or already have a roadmap in place and want expertise to deliver your ambitions, Ricardo is here to help. We can support you with reducing Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions.

Net zero pathways

Publicising information about your activities is a risk as well as an opportunity, so it’s important to get it right.Our team can support you to report correctly and offer advice to help you report future success.

Energy and carbon management

Ricardo’s sustainable transport team can help you assess, design and implement the most effective strategies, policies and solutions to make your transport systems more efficient, sustainable and resilient. 

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