NOT CURRENT YEAR
Eastman Chemical has a large production of hazardous chemicals and data tells us that it is producing 30 highly hazardous chemicals, including one persistent chemical, 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 70 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. Another poor area for Eastman Chemical is the Lack of Controversies category, where the American company scores zero points due to several violations and huge penalty fines. In the other categories, Eastman Chemical places itself very much in the middle. It does not really excel in anything, but it is not among the worst performers either.
Opportunities for improvement
- Eastman Chemical should reduce its hazardous portfolio, which currently consists of 30 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 three PIC substances that Eastman Chemical 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.
- Eastman Chemical states clearly that for them “Sustainability is no longer an add-on to doing business — it is a business imperative.” To fill this further with concrete measures/actions, we would like to see clear, public and timed phase-out plans for their production and use of hazardous chemicals. An annual progress report would allow to understand their achievements.
- While Eastman Chemicals has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and established a circular economy and life-cycle assessment team, the main topic is plastic packaging. We would like to see a product with a circular end-of-life concept, as well as a circular strategy for the whole company, with clear KPIs and SMART targets connected to the company’s core business.
Eastman produces/uses 30 highly hazardous substances – 29 SIN List chemicals, 3 PICs, and 4 HHPs – 9 of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. 1 of these highly hazardous substances is either banned or severely restricted, with set dates when production needs to cease (1 Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces 1 persistent chemical. 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 70 percent 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.
Eastman Chemical 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. Eastman Chemical actively markets safer alternatives on its own website and on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has no true circular product, process or innovation. Eastman Chemical uses biobased resources without occupying extra land or competing with food production. However, it does not source and treat recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. Eastman Chemical is actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.
The American company does not produce only sustainable products. Nor does it have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances that go beyond regulatory compliance. It shares chemical safety information on its website and follows a credible code of conduct standard. Eastman Chemical responded to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking. However, the company does not share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). Eastman Chemical has a circular economy program in place, but it lacks objective and measurable circular economy targets.
Eastman Chemical has been involved in quite a few incidents over the past ten years. In October 2016, the company settled a class action lawsuit over poisoned drinking water from a chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia, brought by at least 224,000 local residents and 7,300 business owners in 2014. Eastman Chemical agreed to pay 25 million USD to a general fund to be distributed among those affected. Four years later, the state of New Hampshire sued Eastman Chemical subsidiary Solutia Inc. over PCB contamination of public property, as well as water and other natural resources. Between 2011 and 2020, Eastman Chemical and its subsidiaries paid more than 4.5 million USD in environmental violation, according to the violation tracker of Good Jobs First.Download Controversies Eastman Chemical (PDF, 123 KB)