The Dow Chemical Company’s newly released 2017 Sustainability Report details its progress against its goals for 2025, including surpassing the year’s target for savings and revenue from projects that are “better for ecosystems.” Such projects generated $120 million in cost savings and new cash flow in 2017 against the goal to reach $1 billion by 2025.
The ‘Valuing Nature’ goal team focuses on business-driven projects that enhance ecosystems, such as at Dow’s Aratu site in Brazil where the project team found an erosion protection solution that helped stabilize a slope with a natural engineered technology that incorporates native plants. An area of Matarandiba Island was excavated in 2009, leaving 24-meter-high slopes that were eroding and causing safety hazards. In lieu of conventional solutions, such as removing the slopes or stabilizing them with concrete and tie-back anchors, the team installed green gabion walls. These walls include steel mesh and natural fiber filled with rocks and embedded with native vegetation.
“I am excited about our progress against our 2025 Sustainability Goals and how these goals are challenging us to rethink business models and product designs to help achieve shared value for Dow, our environment and society,” said Neil Hawkins, chief sustainability officer and corporate vice president for Environment, Health & Safety at Dow. “These goals are delivering long-term value to Dow and sustainable solutions for our customers and society.”
Dow’s 2017 Sustainability Report, which was prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards Comprehensive Option, covers a wide range of sustainability-related topics in addition to the ‘Valuing Nature’ goal. Specific highlights from this year’s report for the other goals include:
- Leading the Blueprint: To help advance the goal of developing societal blueprints that integrate public policy solutions, science and technology, and value chain innovation, the goal team defined a pipeline of blueprint topics and launched the Watershed Management blueprint.
- Delivering Breakthrough Innovation: In 2017, innovation teams were awarded a U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Award, six R&D 100 awards for sustainability-related products and an EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year award.
- Advancing a Circular Economy: Dow is collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders to identify business models that enable a more circular economy. Last year, Dow launched quantitative studies to reduce plastic waste in Japan and helped the Indonesian government to turn plastic waste into sustainable roads.
- Safe Materials for a Sustainable Planet: Dow initiated the Product Stewardship Academy with outreach in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana to promote product safety and received a LAUNCH Chemistry award for development of predictive safety assessment tools.
- Engaging for Impact: Communities, Employees and Customers: In 2017, Dow invested $39.74 million in corporate and foundation contributions, and more than 3,000 Dow employees acted as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) ambassadors – supporting more than 2,500 teachers and impacting more than 380,000 students.
- World-Leading Operations Performance: In 2017, Dow reduced its freshwater intake intensity at water-stressed sites by 5 percent from the 2015 baseline – achieving significant progress toward the 2025 goal of a 20 percent reduction. To help achieve its goal to maintain its total recordable injury and illness at industry-leading levels, Dow also implemented new technologies to remove workers from higher-hazard activities. Technologies include robotics to eliminate the need for confined space entry and drones to bypass certain elevated work.
“At Dow, we see one role of business as a catalyst for change – as a driver of innovations that improve life and the environment, while creating sustainable economic growth,” said Jim Fitterling, chief executive officer-elect at Dow. “With our ambitious 2025 Sustainability Goals, we have committed to make a difference and to help redefine the role of business in society. We will continue to drive science- and technology-based solutions for key global challenges such as marine debris, carbon emissions and water availability, collaborating alongside our customers, governments, NGOs and other important stakeholders.”