In a significant advancement towards its 2030 sustainability goals, chemical giant DuPont announced today the achievement of several milestones towards fulfilling the company’s commitments related to per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been in use in a wide range of consumer and industrial products since the 1940s. They are commonly found in food packaging, fabrics, kitchenware products, fire-fighting foam, and electronics, among other products. The chemicals tend to be very persistent, and don’t break down over time, and have been found to accumulate in the human body and in the environment. It is believed that PFAS can have cause adverse health effects in humans, including low birth weights, cancers, thyroid hormone disruption as well as affecting the immune system.
DuPont does not manufacture PFAS chemicals, but they are used in some of the company’s products. In August 2019, DuPont made several far-reaching commitments to reduce the use of the chemicals, and today’s announcement outlines the progress the company has made to date, including the following milestones:
- Eliminated the use of long-chain PFAS from products and processes, including recently integrated operations, by the end of 2019.
- Eliminated the purchase and storage of PFAS-based firefighting foams at many DuPont sites and are on track to eliminate all PFAS-based firefighting foams at company sites by the end of 2021(where legally allowed).
- Conducting ongoing remediation at DuPont sites that have a historic PFAS footprint.
- Providing $6 million of unrestricted research funding over the next 3 years to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund innovative PFAS remediation technologies. The NSF recently requested proposals for novel PFAS research as part of this initiative.
- Providing open-source access to technical guidance documents on how to use DuPont and other manufacturers’ resin technologies for PFAS remediation.
- Enabled access to DuPont’s proprietary product stewardship software to organizations including the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry, Beyond Benign, Rutgers and others. To make this software broadly accessible to others seeking to guide assessment of chemical alternatives in their operations, the company intends to launch the Chemical Awareness Toolkit at the ACS 24th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference on June 15 – 19, 2020.
- Engaging with ERM, an accredited third-party expert and leading global provider of EHS and sustainability related services, to review the company’s management of substances of current and emerging concern to further improve our processes and protocols.
Commenting on the milestones achieved towards reaching the company’s PFAS commitments, Alexa Dembek, DuPont’s Chief Technology & Sustainability Officer, said:
“We’re pleased to have made this progress in delivering on our promises related to PFAS chemicals as we strive to live our core values of sustainability and environmental stewardship. We look forward to sharing further updates as we continue our progress on these commitments and our broader 2030 sustainability goals.”