Dow Chemical Plan Stresses Quality of Life

Mon, 08/14/2006 - 6:38am
‘To be a successful, thriving enterprise, we need a healthy environment that meets the needs of people.’ —Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical Chairman Dow Chemical has launched its second 10-year sustainability plan with chairman Andrew Liveris saying the company’s goal is no less than to improve the quality of life for mankind — and Dow’s bottom line. In announcing the new plan, Liveris noted that Dow’s first 10-year sustainability campaign from 1996 to 2005 cost the firm about $1 billion but yielded about $5 billion in savings. Much of that savings came from energy economies as Dow reduced by 20 percent the amount of energy that went into a pound of product. The company vows to cut energy use a further 25 percent from 2006 to 2015 and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 percent each year in the decade ahead. Liveris emphasized, however, that the new plan is fundamentally different from the last. The goals achieved in the last 10 years, he said, were about us, about putting our own house in better order. He said Dow will continue to work on improving operational safety, reduced emissions and lower energy use within the company, but its new sustainability plan is more outward looking. Dow plans to work actively with about 150 communities in 37 countries where it has facilities “to identify and support the priorities that are most important to their well-being and prosperity. In addition, Dow is committed to developing at least three product or technology breakthroughs by 2015 that will improve the quality of life in one or more key challenges facing the global community: sustainable water, adequate food supplies, decent housing and human health and safety. He also pledged that Dow will bring its science and technology to bear on the unsustainable global energy appetite and greenhouse gas emissions. Worthy goals, to be sure, but Liveris also pointed out that Dow must profit from this noble effort in order to survive. “To be a successful, thriving enterprise, he said, we need a healthy environment that meets the needs of people. We need a stable and secure political climate, and we need a healthy and optimistic community of potential customers and consumers. If Dow does not drive these sustainability issues forward, he said, the company will become vulnerable in the marketplace. Cynics may charge that Dow is wrapping carnivorous profit goals in a sheep’s clothing of high-minded social and environmental objectives. Maybe so but perhaps that’s the point. Everyone will benefit if Dow can bring to market some whiz-bang water filtering membrane, for example, that will improve quality of life in Africa and elsewhere and turn a handsome dollar in the bargain.

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