Bayer Corp.'s educational efforts and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc.'s environmental moves each have been rewarded with the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Excellence.
The award - given annually by the Conference Board, a New York-based nonprofit management organization - honors companies for the exemplary quality of their relationships with employees and communities. Pittsburgh-based Bayer is the first chemical maker to be so honored.
Bayer's Making Science Make Sense program won the award for the company. The 10-year-old program involves more than 1,200 Bayer volunteers who visit elementary, middle and high school classrooms nationwide to share their knowledge of science with students.
For S.C. Johnson - a consumer products maker based in Racine, Wis. - the award was given based on the firm's ``Greenlist'' program, an initiative under which more environmentally sound raw materials are used in its products.
As part of that program, S.C. Johnson changed the resin used to make its Saran Wrap plastic film for food. Saran Wrap no longer uses Saran-brand polyvinylidene chloride, the Dow Chemical material used since the product's inception. Concerns about the creation of dioxin when chlorine-based packaging is incinerated led to the switch, officials with S.C. Johnson said.
``The environmental profile of Saran Wrap was something that we weren't comfortable with, and we changed it,'' S.C. Johnson spokeswoman Kelly Semrau said. ``There also was some consumer concern about it.''
S.C. Johnson now uses low density polyethylene to make Saran Wrap. The switch was made in mid-2004.
The company was aware of concerns about chlorine when it bought Saran Wrap - along with the entire Dow Brands portfolio - from Dow Chemical in 1997, Semrau said. But that product was ``a very important brand'' that S.C. Johnson believed it ``could make better'' with other raw materials.
Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez presented the awards to Bayer and S.C. Johnson at a ceremony at the White House on Jan. 5. The Department of Commerce is involved in the selection process for the award.
Bayer Corp. - the North American unit of Bayer AG of Leverkeusen, Germany - is a major producer of polycarbonate, ABS and other specialty plastics and chemicals.
The award honors the late and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, who died in a 1996 plane crash.