NOT CURRENT YEAR
PPG Industries has a very large production of hazardous chemicals and data tells us that it is producing 32 highly hazardous chemicals this year, including three persistent chemicals, which is an increase compared to last year. This large production of very problematic chemicals is a big reason behind PPG Industries’ poor score in this category (0 points) and also in the ranking as a whole. In the other categories PPG Industries places itself very much in the middle. It does not really excel in any category, but it is not among the worst either. The company goes from six points in the Management and Transparency category last year, to a meager two points this year, due to decreased ambition in progressive chemicals management.
Opportunities for improvement
- PPG Industries currently has three 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 PPG Industries prioritises phasing out persistent chemicals from its product portfolio.
- The company should also reduce its hazardous portfolio overall, which currently consists of 32 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 eight PIC substances that PPG Industries 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.
- We regret to see that PPG Industries is falling back in its ambition towards a progressive chemicals management, compared to last year. Last year, we found the following statement from the company: “We actively seek to avoid using chemicals of concern in new products, and we have been successful in removing these substances from many existing products through reformulation.” Now, that statement is gone. PPG should reconfirm its strategy of reducing hazardous chemicals.
PPG produces/uses 32 highly hazardous substances –30 SIN List chemicals, 8 PICs, and 6 HHPs) – 15 of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. 4 of these highly hazardous substances are either banned or severely restricted, with set dates when production needs to cease (4 Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces 3 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 33 % 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.
PPG Industries 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. PPG Industries actively markets safer alternatives both on its own website as well as on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has not any true circular products, processes or innovations. PPG Industries does not use bio-based resources. Nor does it source or treat recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. PPG Industries 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 does, however, share chemical safety information on its website and is following a credible code of conduct standard. PPG Industries 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). PPG Industries does not have a circular economy program in place, and it is lacking objective and measurable circular economy targets.
In 2020, PPG Industries reached a settlement with residents in Jersey City over chromium contamination, resulting in a pay out of 5 million USD. Some years earlier, PPG Industries was held accountable for spilling untreated chemicals into the Allegheny River during several decades. In 2019, the US Department of Environmental Protection announced a settlement agreement with the company, which included a 1.2 million USD fine. In 2014, OSHA proposed fining PPG Industries 69,000 USD for the death of one of its workers at the company’s facility in Barberton. During the last ten years the company has paid 2,459,874 USD in fines for 24 environmental violations.Download Controversies PPG Industries (PDF, 120 KB)