NOT CURRENT YEAR
DuPont has a very large production of hazardous chemicals and data tells us that it is producing 36 highly hazardous chemicals, including four persistent chemicals, which leaves the company without a single point in the first category. The production of problematic chemicals is one reason for the poor score, but also the fact that there’s no available data for the 57 percent of the company’s production that takes place outside of the EU and US. This low transparency is a big issue for investors as it makes it hard to do a proper evaluation of the risks connected to the product portfolio. Like all companies in the ranking, DuPont has been encouraged to share information about its production but it has declined. Another poor area for DuPont is the Lack of Controversies category where the company scores yet another zero points due to several violations and accidents. DuPont scores fairly high in the Development of Safer Chemicals category as it is actively marketing safer chemicals and also recognizes the inherent toxicity of its ingredients.
Opportunities for improvement
- DuPont currently has four substances in its product portfolio belonging to the group of chemicals dubbed “forever chemicals”, due to their extreme persistence. For investors, these chemicals pose a nightmare when the persistence and level of exposure is revealed, as demonstrated by the companies involved in the PFAS disaster, suffering massive financial implications. Investors risk stranded assets, as the environmental and human health impacts of exposure to “forever chemicals” can’t be stopped or easily reversed. For this reason – not to mention for the sake of human health and the environment – we strongly recommend that DuPont prioritises phasing out persistent chemicals from its product portfolio.
- The company should also reduce its hazardous portfolio overall, which currently consists of 36 banned, severely restricted or SIN-listed substances. Chemical pollution has a harmful impact on human health and the environment, and poses a growing threat. Two million people died due to exposure to hazardous chemicals in 2019, compared to 1.56 million in 2016, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Hazardous chemicals are also key drivers of biodiversity loss, putting entire ecosystems in jeopardy. A good place to start the reduction would be the seven PIC substances that DuPont still offers. PIC, short for Prior Informed Consent, is one of the key provisions of the Rotterdam Convention, allowing the export of – often domestically restricted – hazardous chemicals to poorer countries with weaker chemical legislation, as long as the receiving country signs a consent that it understands what it is accepting and has a plan for how to handle it.
- Over the past ten years, DuPont has paid close to 56 million USD for 69 cases of environmental violations, according to the violation tracker on Good Jobs First. Additionally, the company has been involved in various lawsuits and paid pollution fines for everything from mismanagement of waste, to PFAS (also known as “forever chemicals”) to plastic pollution. The way we see it, DuPont won’t be able to continue externalizing costs to society for the sake of making profit for much longer. If the company doesn’t move quickly towards safety and health protection, and stops polluting the environment, the tide – meaning legislators and the finance sector – could turn on them. This year, 81% of all shareholders voted for a report to disclose DuPont’s plastic pollution – and this could be just the start.
DuPont produces/uses 36 highly hazardous substances –33 SIN List chemicals, 7 PICs, and 6 HHPs – 11 of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. 1 of these highly hazardous substances are either banned or severely restricted, with set dates when production needs to cease (1 Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces 4 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.
Please note that there is no available data for the 57% of the company’s production that takes place outside of the EU and US. Lower EU/US production means higher uncertainty with regard to the total production of hazardous chemicals, which will have a negative impact on the company’s score in this category.
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. It does not, however, exclude substances with toxic properties from its new products. DuPont actively markets safer alternatives both on its own website as well as on ChemSec Marketplace. The company not any true circular products, processes or innovations. DuPont uses bio-based resources, but at the expense of occupying extra land or in competition with food production. It sources and treats recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. DuPont is actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.
The American company does not produce only sustainable products, and it does not have a timed phase-out strategy for hazardous substances that go beyond regulatory compliance. It shares chemical safety information on its website and is following a credible code of conduct standard. DuPont did not respond to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking and it does not share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). DuPont does have a circular economy program in place, but it is lacking objective and measurable circular economy targets.
DuPont have 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.Download Controversies DuPont de Nemours (PDF, 135 KB)