WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 6, 2003 - DuPont today was awarded the National Medal of Technology - the highest honor for technological innovation in the United States -- for technology and policy leadership in the phaseout and replacement of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). President George W. Bush presented the Medal to DuPont Chairman and CEO Charles O. Holliday, Jr. at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
"DuPont is a science company that focuses its efforts on providing societal and shareholder value while reducing environmental impact," Holliday said. "We are honored to be recognized for our role in addressing and helping resolve one of the most challenging environmental issues the world has faced."
DuPont led global research to gain scientific understanding of the environmental impact of CFCs, commonly used for refrigeration and air conditioning, among other applications. DuPont then led industry in the development of a series of alternatives for use in new and existing equipment.
"All a scientist can ever ask is for people to be fair, to listen to what we know, how we know it, and be objective in dealing with the information. In my own experience, nobody has done that better than DuPont on the ozone depletion issue," said Susan Solomon, atmospheric scientist and 1999 recipient of the National Medal of Science for her work on ozone depletion. "DuPont approached the issue with care, asked fair questions and, most importantly, they listened to the answers. DuPont has taken a scientific view - maybe the best word is a dignified view - to this very challenging issue."
The challenge was to develop products that could be used in existing air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, avoiding the societal disruption and expense of developing wholly new technology. In the United States alone, that equipment base totaled more than $135 billion -- including 150 million automobile and small truck air conditioning systems, 80,000 building chillers, and 69 million home refrigerators.
The first-developed and most widely used alternative to date was hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) 22. While less ozone-depleting than CFCs, HCFCs are governed under the Montreal Protocol and are being phased out globally.
DuPont commercialized the first of its non-ozone-depleting hydroclorofluorocarbons (HFCs), Suva® refrigerants, in January 1991. Since then, the company has launched 19 alternatives and has more than 375 patents. These alternatives are environmentally acceptable and energy efficient.
Recently, DuPont announced plans to invest as much as $100 million to provide fluorine-based products, including HFCs, in China. Developing countries continue to undergo a transition away from CFCs as their markets for refrigeration and air conditioning continue to grow and as equipment manufacturers establish operations there. DuPont estimates that refrigeration and air conditioning accounts for about 50 percent of global use for these products.
This is the fourth National Medal of Technology Award affiliated with DuPont in 13 years. In 1990, DuPont received the award for pioneering the development of high-performance polymers such as nylon, DuPont® Neoprene® rubber and engineering plastics. DuPont scientist George Levitt was honored in 1993 for the development of sulfonylureas, environmentally friendly herbicides. In 1996, DuPont scientist Stephanie Kwolek was recognized for the discovery and development of DuPont® Kevlar® aramid fiber, which has since helped save nearly 3,000 lives in law enforcement.
DuPont has been recognized as a leader in sustainability, earning a number of awards including the World Environment Center's Gold Medal. DuPont has consistently earned high marks on social responsibility and environmental progress in surveys such as Fortune Magazine's "Most Admired Companies" and the Financial Times PriceWaterhouseCoopers' "World's Most Respected Companies." As part of its environmentally responsible sustainable growth mission, DuPont has set four goals for 2010, supplementing existing goals:
- To derive 25 percent of revenues from non-depletable resources.
- To reduce global carbon-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent, using 1990 as a base year. The company has already surpassed this goal with a 68 percent reduction.
- To hold energy use flat using 1990 as a base year.
- To source 10 percent of the company's global energy use in the year 2010 from renewable resources.
Earlier this year, DuPont became a founding member of the Chicago Climate Exchange, a voluntary cap-and-trade program for reducing and trading greenhouse gas emissions. Members of the Chicago Climate Exchange have made a commitment to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by 4 percent below the average of their 1998-2001 baseline by 2006.
In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented its Presidential Green Chemistry award to DuPont for the company's innovation that uses corn - instead of conventional petroleum-based processes - to produce its latest polymer platform for use in clothing, carpets and automobile interiors. In addition, DuPont is working with the U.S. Department of Energy in research leading to the world's first integrated "bio-refinery" - capable of producing ethanol fuel and value-added chemicals from renewable resources such as corn.
DuPont is a science company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by solving problems and creating solutions that make people's lives better, safer and easier. Operating in more than 70 countries, the company offers a wide range of products and services to markets including agriculture, nutrition, electronics, communications, safety and protection, home and construction, transportation and apparel.
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