NOT CURRENT YEAR
Chemical giant DuPont produces 32 SIN List substances (including four persistent chemicals), with nine of these officially recognised as chemicals of high concern by the EU. The company has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes intrinsic hazards of ingredients in its screening. It does not, however, have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances. The company follows several voluntary standards of good conduct, but has, nonetheless, been involved in numerous environmental violations over the last ten years, including the huge class action lawsuit that was brought against the company for releasing the persistent chemical PFOA into the environment over a period of several decades.
Opportunities for improvement
- Accept responsibility for the company’s toxic legacy and transform DuPont de Nemours into a green and profitable company. Downplaying risks and neglecting responsibility for environmental pollution and threats to human health have been notorious strategies of DuPont. But those tactics don’t work any longer. The mounting liability costs and the plummeting stock price show a lack of trust among investors and local communities. Fine words in a sustainability report are not enough to turn things around for Dupont. A completely new strategy and chemical production approach are needed.
- A sustainable circular economy needs products that can be safely recycled over and over again. This can only be achieved without hazardous ingredients. We therefore recommend that DuPont acknowledges its responsibility and publicly announces a phase-out strategy that would dramatically reduce both the volume and the number of hazardous chemicals that the company produces.
- Only bring safer products – free from hazardous chemicals – to the market. The company’s innovation and product design departments should have this as a clear goal moving forward, and never stray from it.
DuPont produces 32 SIN List substances, nine of which are included on the REACH Candidate List but none on the REACH Authorisation List. The company produces four persistent chemicals. Persistent chemicals are particularly problematic since they do not break down, but instead accumulate in humans and the environment. Because of this, persistent chemicals should be of extra concern for investors. Substances that are not considered a problem today could become huge liabilities in the future.
DuPont has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes the intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. The company does not follow the principles of green chemistry, nor does it exclude substances with toxic properties from new products. It does, however, make use of the GreenScreen assessment tool and actively markets safer alternatives on its website.
The company shares chemical safety information on its website but does not have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances. DuPont de Nemours is a member of Responsible Care and follows voluntary standards such as a Code of Conduct and a Supplier Code of Conduct.
DuPont has been involved in numerous controversies over the last ten years. The most well-known being the huge class action lawsuit that was brought against the company for releasing the persistent chemical PFOA into the environment. In 2017, DuPont and its spin-off Chemours agreed to pay 671 million USD to settle all the lawsuits. The same year, the company spent 50 million USD to clean up sediment laced with mercury, lead and other contaminants that had been dumped into a New Jersey lake. Three years earlier, the accidental release of nearly 11,000 kg of methyl mercaptan from the company’s pesticide plant in La Porte, Texas led to an incident that killed four workers. DuPont was issued a 3 million USD penalty for this incident.Download detailed information on controversies (PDF, 126 KB)