DuPont, a US manufacturer of food, healthcare products, clothing, hardware and electronics, is ranked among the 50 largest US industrial/service corporations by Fortune 500 magazine. In its 200-year history it has built up a staff of more than 85,000 people in 70 countries. DuPont owns more than 135 manufacturing and processing facilities, as well as 75 laboratories, and in 2001 it earned $24 billion in revenue.
Dupont's mission is to achieve "sustainable growth", a goal which is defined as "increasing shareholder and societal value while decreasing the company’s environmental footprint along the value chain in which we operate". DuPont's own perception of sustainable business borrows from the Bruntland definition, and commits the company to "implement those strategies that build successful businesses and achieve the greatest benefit for all stakeholders without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs".
To achieve sustainable growth, Dupont focuses on improved productivity to drive down costs, waste production, and energy demand. It has three core strategies:
DuPont says its values and principles are non-negotiable. They embrace safety, health, and environmental excellence; high standards of ethics and integrity in all business practices; and fair treatment of all the people associated with the company.
As part of its 'Responsible Care' strategy (a code of conduct developed by the Canadian Chemical Manufacturers' Association) Dupont aims to increase transparency and communications between the plants and the communities in which they operate.
DuPont has a policy of consulting with external groups on global issues that affect its work. So far it has formed partnerships with the World Resources Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Pew Center for Global Climate Change and the Keystone Center. It is also a member of several advisory panels that seek to influence the development of responsible public policy and a market-driven emissions trading system, as well as identify economically viable renewable energy sources.
Apart from working on climate and energy, DuPont's sustainable growth strategy also focuses on food and nutrition, and safety and security. It has invested in agricultural businesses that provide seed, soy protein, and crop protection products. DuPont conducted research in West Africa to develop a new, safer cotton insecticide.
The 'Dupont Commitment' outlines several specific targets:
During 1999, DuPont commissioned consultants from Environmental Resources Management (ERM), to conduct an environmental audit of its safety, health, and environment (SHE) program. The assessment measured progress against three criteria: (i) external expectations set by organizations with standing in the SHE audit community (such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and the International Standards Organisation); (ii) DuPont’s internal SHE auditing standard; and (iii) generally accepted audit practices in comparable companies. The study concluded that the program was consistent with, and in some cases exceeded, the criteria.
In a recent assessment of 128 projects, some significant progress was identified, including::
Progress was also made on water consumption and hazardous waste shipments.
In partnership with its own customers, DuPont has achieved some notable successes in eco-efficiency. DuPont Canada's performance coatings business initiated a partnership with Ford at its car assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario. Using a new contract based on the number of cars painted, rather than the quantity of paint consumed, DuPont helped Ford achieve significant savings. As a result, hydrocarbon emissions from the plant have dropped by 50 percent, and costs are down by a third.
Since 1991, the DuPont Carpet Reclamation Program has reclaimed more than 60 million pounds of carpet. According to DuPont, it is the only viable carpet reclamation program that reclaims and recycles all types of used commercial carpet. Recycled content is used to manufacture carpet fibre, floor tiles, carpet cushion, sod reinforcement and automobile parts.
An expansion of DuPont's nylon carpet reclamation center in Calhoun, Georgia means that the company can now recycle larger volumes of discarded floor coverings. Its peak capacity is now 1,000 pounds of recovered nylon per hour. The process involves recovering a clean nylon 6,6 resin from used nylon carpet recovered in the DuPont Carpet Reclamation program. The facility is capable of sorting up to 50,000,000 pounds of used carpet per year.
"Combining the sorting and recycling processes in one location vastly reduces the energy, time and costs it takes to complete the recycling process," comments Dave Bouton, business director with DuPont Commercial Fiber.
DuPont envisages further reductions in the size of its ecological footprint. Its goals for 2010 include sourcing 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources; and to achieve 25 percent revenues from non-depletable resources.
Click here to download a PDF copy of DuPont's 2001 Sustainable Growth Progress Report.
Read more about: EH&S programmes, Eco-efficiency, The 4Rs
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