Executive Q&A: with Eastman's Chief Sustainability Officer, Godefroy Motte

Executive Q&A: with Eastman's Chief Sustainability Officer, Godefroy Motte

In preparation for the release of Eastman's 2015 Sustainability Report, Godefroy took some time to answer questions about Eastman's sustainability journey.
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Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:30am

CAMPAIGN: Eastman Corporate Responsibility

CONTENT: Article

How has sustainability evolved at Eastman since last year’s report?

We have made good progress on our journey, and we are seeing a much more proactive and transformational approach. My vision for sustainability at Eastman is that it is integrated into everything we do and is visible inside and outside the company. As you can read in this report, we are driving innovation and growth. We have shifted from compliance and managing our footprint inside our gates to delivering insights and value across our value chains.

As we highlighted in last year’s report, we realize that while we can make a difference, true impact comes from collaboration along the value chain. As our business strategy has evolved, so has our sustainability strategy. Over the past year, we have emphasized our focus on value chain collaboration. We are an active voice in the chemical industry as well as other industries looking to improve sustainability, and we are strengthening our engagement through organizations such as World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and Together for Sustainability (TfS) and our commitment to the Responsible Care® Global Charter. Additionally, we are working downstream with brands and retailers to gain insights to consumer needs and behaviors, which we then share with our direct customers and suppliers to drive innovation and develop more sustainable solutions.

How are you embedding sustainability across the company as you continue to grow and acquire new sites?

In 2014, we acquired a number of new site locations, most recently being the acquisition of Taminco, which added an alkylamine stream to Eastman’s portfolio. With that comes the addition of a new macro trend that drives our business decisions — feeding a growing population. Many of Taminco’s products will help meet needs in the food, feed and agriculture markets.

In general, we truly are embedding sustainable thinking across the company, fulfilling our vision and making a difference. As we continue to grow, we see more opportunity to engage our employees on sustainability-focused topics and programs. It is amazing how our employees are responding. For example, we have set a goal to reduce energy intensity 20 percent by 2020. Employees are actively participating in energy projects at many of our sites, not only in manufacturing but also in office buildings. Additionally, we’ve seen increased interest in our recycling and waste reduction efforts.

What are the major risks or opportunities facing your company and industry and how does that relate to your business strategy?

Consumers are looking for value. We, as consumers, all want a better product, but we are not necessarily willing to pay a higher price. If we see added value around safety, health or performance, however, then we may pay more. Innovating sustainable solutions costs and we have to manage costs to fund innovation.

So the challenge is that if you come up with a new solution or new product, you have to generally make a large investment to build capacity and it often requires collaboration and engagement externally across the value chain. Collaboration in the value chain can only be done if all participants are taking courageous leadership. It is not something you can do alone. Those of us in the chemical industry can have ideas, but if the downstream user is not willing to implement them, we will not progress.

For more information about Eastman's sustainability initiatives, read the 2015 Sustainability Report, "Gaining momentum."