NOT CURRENT YEAR
Eastman Chemical receives the same grade as last year: D+. It produces 30 hazardous substances, including one persistent chemical. It has a product assessment method in place to monitor and measure chemicals with hazardous properties. The company states that it “strives to reduce and eliminate chemicals of concern where feasible”. However, it does not prohibit chemicals of concern in newly developed products nor has a clear phase-out plan for its existing hazardous substances. The company markets safer alternatives on third-party platforms such as ChemSec’s Marketplace. Worth highlighting is that Eastman is an industry leader in terms of transparency because they have declared publicly that they produce no additional chemicals in their Latin American or Asian plants. This makes it possible for investors to assess their full portfolio of hazardous chemicals.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Eastman produces one persistent chemical, same as in 2021. These substances are also known as “forever chemicals” due to the fact that they do not break down in nature. Instead, these chemicals — which are linked to many negative health effects — build up over time. The consequences of these substances are becoming increasingly detrimental, not only for human health and the environment but also for investors. Investors risk stranded assets now that the regulatory speed is accelerating, and are also exposed to significant liability risks since more chemical companies are being sued for contamination. Eastman should therefore phase out its persistent chemical.
- Reduce hazardous portfolio
Scientists agree that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary and become an urgent global problem. This threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, by damaging the biological and physical processes that underpin all life. Eastman has 30 hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, the same amount as last year. A paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. The company should further develop its progressive transparency policy by identifying all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of total revenue of all its hazardous substances. Eastman should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical and an annual progression report. If the company continues to produce any hazardous substance, it needs to present a rationale for its essential use, motivate the production volume and state how much money it spends on research and development to find a safer alternative.
- Prevent further controversies
Eastman has over the last decade been involved in incidents leading to significant liabilities and should re-design or dramatically improve its Environment, Health and Safety strategy. This would help the company to better avoid incidents and make sure that controls – functioning even when human errors occur – are in place. If an accident or spill should happen, it is important that the company identifies the cause and publishes a document on strategies that will be implemented to avoid similar occurrences in the future. It is possible to prevent human suffering and environmental pollution when producing chemicals, but it requires a thorough Environment, Health and Safety system.