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DuPont’s getting greener

Sarah Gardner Oct 10, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: The DuPont Corporation announced today it’s doubling its investment in green products. Research and development specifically. It’s also setting new sales goals for eco-friendly products. DuPont’s one of the biggest chemical companies in the world. It’s been the target of environmental lawsuits and controversy for years. Which makes you wonder. Can a company that used to profit from CFC’s and leaded gasoline turn seriously green? From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sarah Gardner reports.

SARAH GARDNER: DuPont has said for years now that its corporate mission is “sustainable growth.” And lately the company’s been putting its money where its mouth is. The chemical giant has cut its own greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent. Today, DuPont not only promised to cut emissions further, but said by 2015 it will double its annual revenue from products made from renewable sources like corn. That amounts to more than a quarter of DuPont’s current yearly revenues.

CEO Chad Holliday says those products include fabric, fuel and even auto parts.

CHAD HOLLIDAY:“I just see the market pull for these products really strong. Was it this last energy spike that got the interest up? I think that’s probably a factor. But clearly the demand is something I’ve just never experienced before.”

Environmentalists today generally applauded DuPont’s move:

MINDY LUBBER:“It’s substantial, it’s bold.”

Mindy Lubber, president of CERES, a coalition of investors and environmental groups, says like GE’s EcoImagination project, DuPont is setting public revenue goals and timetables. And investors will hold them accountable.

LUBBER:“I think DuPont has in the past made commitments and delivered on them and they are making broader, deeper, longer term commitments.”

But unions representing DuPont workers weren’t impressed. Joe Drexler of United SteelWorkers says DuPont is still a huge industrial polluter.

JOE DREXLER:“We would have rather seen concrete steps to find meaningful alternatives for many of the toxic chemicals that it produces.”

Just last year DuPont agreed to pay a record EPA fine over a chemical used to make Teflon. The company still maintains it’s safe.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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