In setting its corporate sustainability goals for 2015, Dow Chemical Co. also is challenging other chemical and plastics companies to step up to the plate with product and environmental stewardship.
In announcing its goals for the next 10 years at a news conference last week in Washington, Andrew Liveris, Dow president, chairman and chief executive officer, said the Midland, Mich., company ``will achieve at least three breakthroughs'' that will significantly improve the global community's ability to solve the challenges of ``sustainable water supplies, decent housing, adequate food supplies and improved personal health and safety.''
He also said Dow will confront the issue of ``greenhouse gas emissions and climate change [and] the unsustainable way people on the planet today - as countries, as companies, and as individuals - use energy.''
``In the near-term, our industry will continue to depend on natural gas and oil as our primary sources of energy and raw material,'' Liveris said. ``But we will lead the way to energy [use] transformation, [as] no one in the world is more intensively aware of the need and, ultimately, has the capacity to reinvent humankind's dependency on oil and natural gas'' than the chemical industry.
``The debate is over. It is now clear that the world's climate is impacted by increases in greenhouse gases ... created by the burning of fossil fuels.''
Liveris said Dow - which cut its consumption of energy by 20 percent per pound of product made from 1996-2005 - will ``commit ourselves to cutting energy consumption by a further 25 percent'' over the next 10 years and said the company will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 percent annually. Dow claimed that is the equivalent of taking emissions from 3 million automobiles out of the atmosphere.
By 2015, Dow said it will achieve, on average, a 75 percent improvement of key indicators for environmental, health and safety excellence from its 2005 base line.
Such improvements also would help Dow financially. Liveris said the $1 billion invested in goals Dow set in 1996 for 2005 yielded $5 billion in savings - 80 percent of that in reduced energy costs.
But he also said Dow ``cannot be content with focusing on just our energy and greenhouse gas footprint. We must also use our resources, our technology, our innovation and our influence to pioneer these and other new ideas for solving the problem in general.
``We will reach beyond the fences of our company'' and engage others ``by raising the bar for ourselves and by being a role model for other organizations to follow. We think these are guiding principles for our industry, setting standards globally that we could all subscribe to. We need to have the will to make sure we maintain our vision in the face of competition. What will keep me up at night is [worrying] that we won't have enough partners.''
As part of its 2015 sustainability goals, Dow said it will provide increased nontechnical summaries about its products to the public on its product safety Web site, www.dowproductsafety.com.