More broadly, how did the 2015 sustainability goals come about?
We had a set of 10-year goals in 1995 — environmental health and safety goals involving leaks and spills, injury rates in factories, goals around our footprint. In 1995 when we put these goals in, the organization said "what? Why are we doing this?" We tracked them over ten years, using clear metrics, and you could see the clear results. We reduced our energy intensity, waste water, leaks and spills. As we got to the end of it, leadership said "what can we do now. What are our new goals?" We wanted to focus on not so much doing less harm but doing more good. What is the positive impact we can have? One of them was to try to focus the organization a little bit more on the developing world.
Of course, given that Dow is a chemical company, given its history, there are bound to be skeptics, those who say this is largely a PR effort. How do you answer them?
I’m not the spokesman for the 2015 project. My personal answer is watch what we do. We've told what we’re doing. There are progress reports on our goals on the Web. We’re as transparent as we can be. We do have some legacy issues but if we are only going to talk about legacy issues, you’re going to miss a lot of the good things we're doing in technology and projects.
There’s also some skepticism about the cost effectiveness of some corporate green initiatives and the perception that they are fashionable?
Energy is certainly a major issue for us, global warming, green house gases are certainly critical to our ongoing operations. We’re a big energy user. So we have to get that right.
From our standpoint we can operate our plants a lot more efficiently and save a lot of money and use less energy and release a lot less CO2. There are economic incentives for us to be sustainable, especially with the price of energy these days.