Across Shell, we work to ensure our many products – such as fuels, lubricants and chemicals – are safe throughout their life cycle. To understand and manage the potential health, safety and environmental risks of our products, we evaluate them carefully. We work closely with our customers and suppliers, monitor any changes in the science behind our products, and support research if it helps us to further reduce their risks.

To support this activity, we have a global network of specialist product stewardship teams. These teams include product stewards, toxicologists, ecotoxicologists and exposure scientists, together with regulatory, IT and communication specialists. As well as supporting the Shell businesses, many of our team members work collaboratively with a wide range of external industry bodies and research groups.

In 2021, we carried out more than 700 risk assessments for products and additives. To contribute to ensuring the products we make and sell are handled safely throughout the value chain, we also published and distributed around 100,000 safety data sheets to customers across 160 countries.

The products we produce, make, sell, transport, use and store are managed in line with local regulatory requirements, our Shell General Business Principles and our Commitment and Policy on Health, Safety, Security, Environment (HSSE) and Social Performance. We also meet several voluntary industry commitments, including the ICCA Global Product Strategy set out in the ICCA Responsible Care® Global Charter.

Preparing for the circular economy

In 2021, we continued to prepare for emerging international, regional and national regulations and policies that aim to create a circular approach throughout product life cycles. A prime example of this is the European Union’s Circular Economy Action Plan (part of the EU Green Deal) which includes a mixture of legislative and non-legislative measures.

Our work includes assessing the risks of using new renewable bio- and waste-based feedstocks such as those made from used vegetable oil or plastic waste. We are actively engaging with trade associations to assess impacts and contribute to strategies for new regulatory measures stemming from the development and implementation of new sustainability policy on a global scale.

Product stewardship information

We maintain extensive information to support our work to make our products safer and more sustainable. This information includes Safety Data Sheets, which set out the hazards associated with specific products and any relevant local regulatory requirements. Product Stewardship Summaries provide general health, safety and environmental information about our products.

Animal Welfare

Animal Testing

Global chemical safety regulations require animal testing to assess the risks of new products. Shell is committed to ending the need to do testing which involves animals. We aim to replace animal testing by suitable alternatives while ensuring that we can continue to innovate, develop and maintain new and safe product and technologies.

Our approach to animal testing is governed by what is called the "3Rs". This stresses the need to:

  • replace animal tests with alternative methods whenever possible;
  • reduce the number of animals used in any animal tests for which there are no alternative methods; and
  • refine animal test methods to make them as humane as possible.

We support the UK National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, and the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing in the USA. We also work proactively with other partners in academia and industry to help us achieve the 3Rs, with a particular emphasis on developing viable alternatives to replace animal testing.

Most of the animal testing we carry out uses laboratory-bred rats, mice and fish. We do not use cats, dogs or monkeys. All our animal testing is carried out by licensed or accredited research facilities where animal welfare standards are enforced by independent inspections. All our animal testing complies with internationally accepted principles governing good laboratory practice.

Animal Welfare and use of Animal-Based Biomass

Shell is committed to supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and becoming a net-zero energy business before 2050. As part of our net-zero ambition, waste biomass from animals bred or kept for the production of food or feed could be used to create a renewable fuel source. Shell is committed to ensuring animal welfare principles are implemented and adhered to in the use of these new fuel sources. Shell will continue to seek guidance on how best to engage and ensure the welfare of animal-based biomass through our animal welfare panel.

You can read annual reports on our animal testing and welfare activities, compiled by a panel of independent experts, below.

Animal Welfare panel report

Note: We have made a one-off amendment to the date of the 2015 report to bring it in line with other Shell Group annual reports. The Animal Welfare Report for 2015 contains details and data for activity carried out during 2015. Note that this contrasts with previous years where the title year referred to the year of report publication.

Sustainablility Report 2021

Find out more about our approach to sustainability and our performance data in our Sustainability Report.

More in Sustainability

Our approach

Powering Progress is underpinned by our core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people and our focus on safety. Safety is central to our Powering Progress strategy. We aim to do no harm to people and to have no leaks across our operations. We call this our Goal Zero ambition.

Process safety

Process safety involves making sure our facilities are well designed, safely operated and properly maintained to prevent leaks of hazardous materials.

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