PLASTICS Director, Sustainability and Environment
Now, more than ever, it’s important for industry to set ambitious goals towards achieving zero plastic resin loss and simultaneously demonstrate that strong practices are in place to prevent loss of resin into the environment. That’s why in six short months, Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS) will launch a new facility-level verification program that brings an expanded level of rigor and transparency to OCS Blue, its most robust tier of membership.
Through OCS Blue Verification, companies will be able to show stakeholders, from customers to shareholders to regulators, that strategies to prevent and mitigate plastic resin loss have been successfully implemented across facilities. Read on to learn more about how the OCS Blue Verification program, applicable to any plastic resin-handling operation in the U.S., will work and can add value to your company.
How was the OCS Blue Verification program developed?
Starting in 2021, a diverse group of OCS Blue members and industry experts spanning the country developed the OCS Blue Verification program, including material suppliers, processors, service providers, and transportation companies. This process included multiple pilots at OCS Blue member companies to help understand how inspections worked in practice and incorporate feedback into the program’s development.
Who can participate in OCS Blue Verification?
OCS Blue Verification will be exclusively available to OCS Blue member companies in the United States.
Will OCS Blue Verification be required for all OCS Blue members?
Once OCS Blue Verification is launched in 2024, all OCS Blue members will be required to participate.
How will verification cycles work for OCS Blue Verification?
OCS Blue Verification’s first cycle will run for two years, from January 2024 through December 2025. Future verification cycles will be three years, starting with the 2026 through 2028 cycle, to align with the timing of international OCS inspection programs.
How many facilities will be required to achieve OCS Blue Verification?
In each verification cycle, OCS Blue members must verify a certain number of their facilities, based on the overall number of eligible facilities in their portfolio, divided into three tiers. A facility is eligible if it handles more than one ton of plastic resin per year.
For companies that do not have a total number of facilities evenly divisible by the percentage, the number of facilities will be rounded up. For example, if an OCS Blue member has five facilities, two will be required to achieve verification in each cycle. If a member has one facility, that facility will be required to secure verification in each cycle.
The facilities required to become verified in each cycle are considered a minimum and, if a member chooses, they may verify more than the required minimum or all of their facilities in a given cycle. However, this does not impact the number of facilities required to achieve verification in future verification cycles.
If my company joins OCS Blue, will we have to participate in OCS Blue Verification right away?
Depending on the point in the verification cycle at which your company joins OCS Blue, your company may be required to participate in OCS Blue Verification in the current verification cycle. For companies that join in the first half of a verification cycle, participating in OCS Blue Verification for the current cycle will be required. For companies joining past the half-way point in the verification cycle, participating in OCS Blue Verification may begin in the following verification cycle.
Does my company select which facilities will achieve OCS Blue Verification in each cycle?
OCS Blue members select which facilities will be inspected for OCS Blue Verification. The program recommends that members select a mix of facilities based on geography, size, and function.
How will an OCS Blue Verification inspection work?
An OCS Blue member will contract directly with an approved OCS Blue Verifier to conduct an OCS Blue Verification inspection. The OCS Blue Verification inspection can be conducted in a stand-alone manner, scheduled alongside a Responsible Care® or ISO inspection, or integrated into certain environmental management system audits including RCMS:2019, RC14001, RCMS:2023, RC14001:2023, or ISO14001:2015.
Once scheduled, a company will provide preliminary background information to the inspector, in advance, on management practices. During the on-site OCS Blue Verification inspection, implementation of 29 required management practices in five categories will be assessed. These management practices are outlined in the forthcoming OCS Blue Verification Framework.
If implementation of required management practices is successfully confirmed, the OCS Blue Verifier will notify the OCS program. For any gaps in implementation observed, the member must submit a Nonconformance Response to the OCS Blue Verifier within 60 days that successfully demonstrates resolution of the gap.
What happens after a facility achieves OCS Blue Verification?
For every facility that becomes OCS Blue Verified, a Certificate of Verification will be provided, and the facility will be added to a public registry of verified facilities. These achievements can be shared in your company’s annual sustainability report and ESG reporting, as well as with customers and stakeholders.
Which inspectors should our company use to do the on-site inspection?
Companies can hire approved OCS Blue Verifiers to conduct an OCS Blue Verification inspection. To become an approved OCS Blue Verifier, an inspector must complete the OCS Blue Verifier training and meet certain eligibility requirements. OCS Blue Verifier Training will be offered to inspectors starting in August 2023 on a monthly basis through the launch of OCS Blue Verification and on a periodic basis thereafter.
Please reach out to [email protected] if you would like to refer an inspector to the OCS Blue Verification Training program or for complete OCS Blue Verifier eligibility requirements.
I have additional questions. How can I get them answered?
If you would like to discuss OCS Blue Verification further or explore OCS Blue membership, please reach out to [email protected]. The OCS team will be happy to answer questions, share information on future OCS Blue Verification webinars for members to learn more, and let you know when the official OCS Blue Verification Framework and Guide to OCS Blue Verification become available.