its large Kingsport, TN plant, what’s
trending in the world of sustainability
and what chemical companies can do
to develop their own goals and plans.
Q: How has your sustainability program evolved over the
A: One recent important change is
that we’ve organized our sustainability
council into four sub councils: Trends-based innovation, design and natural
resources, environmental stewardship
and corporate responsibility.
It has allowed us to segment issues
in a way that allows focused attention, but at the macro council level
we’re able to discuss the intersection
between the sub councils.
Q: Has there ever been any
pushback within the company
about implementing sustainability measures?
A: Nothing major. At our Kingsport
facility, we are in a beautiful part
of the world. When you go to our
employee base they already have a
strong appreciation for environmental
stewardship. This is where they bike,
hike and fish.
We have also engaged our employees in a program that not only is
work-focused but we have also given
them the opportunity to engage in
home based energy reduction — so
replacing lights with bulbs that are
more efficient, or LED etc. —and
moving toward more energy efficient
Q: How have you reduced
energy costs at your Kingsport
A: Kingsport is our largest facility — in the top three in the U.S. in
terms of size of integrated chemical
facilities. We made a commitment to
reduce energy intensity by 20 percent
between 2008 and 2020. We use combined cycle technology: We burn coal
to generate steam and then electricity
and we use both in a highly efficient
In general, we are in the process of
converting roughly 50 percent of our
power generation from coal to natural
gas. We began that process last year
and we’ll finish that process in 2018.
It’s going to result in a significant
reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
by 20 percent.
Q: What about using renewable sources of electricity?
A: Our participation in solar power
is primarily by selling our heat transfer product in that space. We’re interested in any mechanism to generate
renewable power. But you got to think
about what part of the world we’re in
— Tennessee [is not a great location]
for solar. So far natural gas conversion
has made the most sense for us.
Q: What sustainability trends
are you anticipating in the coming years?
A: There are always degrees of
increasing emphasis in certain areas.
I think we will see increasing
emphasis on the responsible use and
management of water.
I anticipate increasing collaboration
— when you think about it, the chem-
ical industry is very interconnected
in that at a large chemical company
you may be a supplier and a custom-
er. We might have ideas but if the
downstream customer is now willing
to implement them, it’s not going to
work. We will need more collabora-
tion across the value chain.
Q: What would be your advice
to other chemical companies
that are developing a sustainability program?
A: You have to think about priori-tization as it relates to your specific
company. We have a good technology
around cellulosics — they go into a
lot of different applications: plastics,
fibers, pharmaceuticals. You need to
think about setting clear goals and be
honest about thinking, am I getting
there? Is change going to be made?
And then shifting resources toward
those areas that our most impactful for