Promises of Sustainability from the Chemical Industry Reach New Height

by Duane Nichols on August 5, 2020

Chemours CEO: “Litigation is behind us” (9/5/2017) — Clean Cape Fear

Chemours’ Mark Vergnano championing sustainability in chem industry

From an Article in Business & Industry Connection (BIC) Magazine, August 1, 2020

ACC chairman, Chemours CEO calls for new era of environmental stewardship

As chairman of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) board of directors and co-chair of ACC’s Sustainability Committee, Chemours President and CEO Mark Vergnano is bringing a unique vision of future sustainability to the forefront of the chemical industry.

“We try to think of ourselves as a different kind of chemistry company,” Vergnano said. “No one else has the goals that we’ve set. All our goals are important, but there are three that are very unique compared to other folks out there: The first is that we want to be a company where women make up 50 percent of our employee population by 2030. That’s a challenge inside the chemical industry, but at the same time, we think it could be a competitive advantage for us.

“The second goal is eliminating all our wastes – plural — in both air and water, and the third is to be carbon-positive by 2050. We’re not aware of anyone else in our industry who has said they were going to do that. So we think of those goals as our ‘North Star’ in terms of how we’re operating the company and how we make decisions every day. They’re challenging but motivating goals for our entire organization.”

Vergnano attributes the boldness of his company’s corporate responsibility commitment to its unusual history, which combines the agility of a startup with the established reputation of several well-known product lines, such as Ti-Pure™ titanium dioxide, Opteon™ refrigerants and Teflon™ fluoropolymers.

When we became our own company in 2015, we decided that we wanted to be different,” he explained. “We wanted to act like a startup, but the beauty of it is we had a 200-year headstart. We took some things from that history, but we also changed some things as well. Our values as a company are ‘customer-centered,’ ‘refreshing simplicity,’ ‘collective entrepreneurship,’ ‘safety obsession’ and ‘unshakeable integrity.’ The integrity and safety are from our legacy, but the other three are really different.

“A lot of companies have ‘customer-centered’ or ‘customer-focused’ as one of their values, but the two values that are really unique and drove us to our sustainability goals are ‘refreshing simplicity’ and ‘collective entrepreneurship.’ We want to do things as an organization and win together, but at the same time we want everyone to feel like an owner of the company. So when we do something, we do it because everyone believes in it, and that’s what drove us to our sustainability goals.”

Chemours is a world leader in its three businesses: Titanium Dioxide, Fluoroproducts and Chemical Solutions. Its products include a refrigerant with the lowest global warming potential on the market, which Vergnano called a “game-changer” in the industry “in terms of reducing the carbon footprint of the world,” as well as a fluoropolymer instrumental in creating “the 5G world all of us will soon be living in.”

“Whether it’s our refrigerants or our polymers, these products are really going to help the world be a much better place,” he said. “This is a growth path for us for the next decade. Great products like these are what will sustain our success going forward.”

Chemours’ Chemical Solutions segment is a provider of industrial chemicals used in oil and gas, water treatment, gold mining and other industries. The company offers customized solutions with a range of industrial and specialty chemical products for markets including plastics and coatings, industrial mining and oil refining.

Vergnano said his role as the 2020 chairman of ACC’s board of directors has given him new insight into the chemical industry’s eagerness to follow the lead of a company like Chemours and strive for ever-higher sustainability goals.

“What we’re trying to do with our corporate responsibility commitment marries well with what the industry is trying to do,” he explained. “Industry-wide, sustainability is becoming an incredibly important topic because people don’t necessarily view chemical and chemistry companies in a positive light. But these are companies that create tremendous value, so we have to find ways to be stewards of the environment.

Sustainability is top-of-mind not only in what we’re trying to accomplish at Chemours, but also in what the industry is trying to accomplish at large – whether it’s managing the issue of plastic waste or water quality for the communities we live and work in. These are going to be overwhelmingly important activities for the industry going forward, and they mirror our corporate responsibility commitments. The reason we’ve been as aggressive as we have in those commitments is that they’re what the world is going to be demanding from companies like us and the industry we are a part of.”

A new age for the chemical industry

For 34 years at DuPont, Vergnano worked in research and development, manufacturing, sales, and marketing, gaining new perspectives on the diverse peoples and cultures outside the U.S. by living in different parts of the world. From this wealth of experience, he can say with confidence that the No. 1 challenge facing the industry today is “getting people to understand the value we create, but at the same time making sure we’re doing it in a very sustainable way.” Notably, he clarified this dual challenge is not “either/or.”

“You can absolutely do both. You can be an important supplier of critical materials and operate sustainably,” he stressed. “My goal at ACC is to bring sustainability to the forefront of the board, and I think we’ve been able to do that over the past few years. The legacy I’d like to leave as chairman is to make these issues a top priority for the CEOs of companies that are part of ACC and ensure the council is a driver of sustainability throughout the industry.”

Despite recent hardships throughout the industrial supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vergnano sees the future of sustainability as uncompromised.

“This is an industry that’s incredibly resilient, and the reason for that is it creates critical products that everyone needs,” he explained. “In the end, the industry is going to be fine because our way of life requires these raw materials to be produced.

“As we came out of the financial crisis in 2008-2009, we saw the chemical industry respond faster than many other industries. The same thing will happen as we come out of this pandemic because of the critical nature of the products we create and the fact that, if economic stimulus comes into the economy, it usually drives infrastructure, which relies on our industry. We will rebound and bounce back once again.”

From a North American perspective in particular, Vergnano said the chemical industry is bound for success in the long run, regardless of temporary setbacks. “The North American chemical industry is even more poised to rebound because of the low-cost feedstocks and labor market we have to pull from,” he said. “It’s a very responsive industry that we know will do well over time.”

Note. Chemours was formed out of the former DuPont Company in 2015. For more information, visit or

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Editor August 5, 2020 at 9:28 pm

Chemours CEO: “Litigation is behind us.”

From “Clean Cape Fear” in North Carolina, September 5, 2017

Meet Chemours CEO Mark Vergnano. He thinks making $6.7 million a year and rapidly increasing Chemours’ stock prices is more important than ensuring his company removes potentially carcinogenic materials from our children’s drinking water.

He said in this interview that he thinks the “big piece of litigation is behind [them] and that’s what worried some investors.”

He talks a lot about “safety” and “integrity.” In an interview with he said Chemours was “going to be more customer-centered DuPont, it was going to have high integrity and an obsession around safety.”

DuPont – obsessed with safety? The same DuPont that settled a lawsuit in Ohio (along with Chemours) for $670 million and one in West Virginia for $70 million – for covering up knowledge that the chemical C8 was toxic?

Vergnano says he thinks litigation is behind them; maybe he missed the memo that DuPont and Chemours dumped C8 in the Cape Fear River from 1980 until it was replaced by GenX in 2014…and then dumped GenX into our river until a few weeks ago…oh, and the new news (to us, not to them) that they dumped Nafion (also similar to C8), in the Cape Fear River since 1980.

Chemours knows how to remove these toxic chemicals from their wastewater. The technology exists. They certainly have the money:

Chemours was named to the Fortune 500 list this past June – the same month we learned they had contaminated our drinking water for years.

So why then is Mr. Vergnano allowing his company to dump a toxic brew of chemicals into the drinking water supply for nearly 300,000 North Carolinians?


Lee Burton August 5, 2020 at 9:39 pm

MOVIE: “Dark Waters”. DATE: 2019.

THEME: A tenacious attorney uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world’s largest corporations. While trying to expose the truth, he soon finds himself risking his future, his family and his own life.

Release date: November 22, 2019 (USA)

Director: Todd Haynes, Actors: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, et al.

Based on: “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare”; by Nathaniel Rich, 2015.


WV Public Broadcasting August 11, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Lawsuit Alleges Union Carbide Failed To Report Toxic Landfill | West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Leigh Anne Keener, August 10, 2020 — And this is another fine example of corporate greed in WV. Always leaving us the collateral damage.

“But the full extent of what could be going on remains hidden. The bulk of the monitoring data and information about this landfill remains under a protective order asked for by Union Carbide. West Virginia Public Broadcasting has joined Green and some members of the Davis Creek Watershed Association in asking the judge to make the records public, given the possible public health and safety ramifications of the dumping. The judge is currently considering unsealing about two dozen documents. ”

West Virginia Rivers Coalition, August 10, 2020 — I’ve been doing environmental law in some form or fashion for 30 years, and I have never seen anything like this – Michael Callaghan, attorney



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