Chemours corporate responsibility: Inspired people, shared planet, evolved portfolio

18:14 PM | October 4, 2019 | Rebecca Coons

Chemours' commitments. 

 Chemours (Wilmington, Delaware) announced on Monday that it has issued its second annual corporate responsibility commitment report, in which it outlines strategies to meet the ten 2030 targets it identified last year. 

Among its achievements, 9.5% of the company's revenue came from product sales that directly support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and 47% of the company's products were shipped in packaging that was either reusable or recyclable. The company reduced greenhouse gas emissions at Johnsonville, Tennessee, by 145,000 metric tons in 2018 by investing in equipment upgrades, delivering 5,860 volunteer hours to community and non-profit organizations, and investing in several sites to reduce organic fluorinated compounds emissions by 99% or greater.

Mark Vergnano, president and chief executive officer of Chemours, tells CW the company aims to have among the most ambitious targets within the chemical industry, and that identifying the most impactful targets required a lot of internal work. Among the more unique targets among its peers, Chemours aims to have half of all positions held by women by 2030. “Currently, we’re in the mid-20-percent range,” he says. Bringing that number to merely 30% or 40% by 2030 felt like a half measure, considering women represent half of the global population. “We feel meeting this target will give us a competitive advantage for talent going forward,” he adds. 

The company has also set a goal to be carbon positive by 2050. “I’m not sure anyone has come out and said they will be carbon positive, so this is a goal that really differentiates us from others. We want to be a different kind of chemistry company,” Vergano says. Moving customers to Chemours’ Opteon low global warming potential refrigerants, which in some cases have emissions 99.9% lower than incumbent materials, will have a large impact toward meeting this goal. 

Chemours is already committing funds to reach its goals. The company is investing nearly $100 million in a thermal oxidizer at Fayetteville, North Carolina, to cut air and water process emissions of fluorinated organic chemicals by 99%. At Dordrecht, the Netherlands, the company is investing over €80 million ($87.7 million) to abate 99% of overall GenX emissions by the end of 2020, compared to the 2017 emission levels.

“We know that there's an investment that has to be made here and we are putting our money where our mouth is in terms of these goals,” Vergano adds. He admits the company isn’t 100% sure year how it will meet some of its targets, so some amount of technology and process innovation is baked in. 

Meeting the targets will also require engagement from all 7,000 Chemours employees. “We want our customers, employees, and people in the communities we operate in to feel good about us as a company,” Vergano says. “You’ve got to set targets like these and back that commitment with action.”