Dow's partnership with the Nature Conservancy

Jan 25, 2011

Let's play word association. When I say "Dow Chemical," what's the first word that comes to mind?

It's probably not bunnies or birds, but with it's new partnership with the Nature Conservancy, officials at Dow say they'll begin to take bunnies and birds into consideration when they make business decisions.

Dow called the partnership a "breakthrough collaboration."

The company and its foundation will put up $10 million to fund the five-year project which will "provide strategic, science-based counsel and technical support to help answer questions about the value and benefits of natural areas on or near where Dow works – such as the benefits of a forest to ensuring clean water for towns and factories, and the role natural wetlands and reefs play in preventing damage from storms."

In a press release, Dow CEO Andrew Liveris says:

"This collaboration is designed to help us innovate new approaches to critical world challenges while demonstrating that environmental conservation is not just good for nature – it is good for business.”

The Nature Conservancy says this is a big step for the company:

What is new about this collaboration is that one of the world’s largest companies is making a commitment to consider nature when making business decisions. Protecting biodiversity (plants, animals, lands, and water) will now be a company-wide strategy for Dow, factored into its plans, goals, and objectives. It will be a core part of the company’s business model. And could change the way it does business — from the way it manufactures products to what happens on the land it owns.

So whether this is real, or whether this is $10 million to help improve the company's image remains to be seen.

As Shawn Allee reported in his series for the Environment Report, EPA officials have said Dow Chemical has been dragging its feet on the cleanup of dioxin contamination around Midland, Michigan.

Booth Mid-Michigan reports that Dow CEO Liveris said the company is committed to cleaning up the dioxin pollution. He made the remarks during the Nature Conservancy partnership announcement at a Detroit Economic Club presentation yesterday:

"The widely known Midland dioxin situation is something that Dow has never walked away from. Dow was responsible for that literally 80 to 90 years ago. We are working closely with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to ensure proper cleanup occurs."

Meanwhile, the EPA and the State of Michigan are proposing new actions to keep people from coming in contact with dioxin and furan contamination in places along the Tittabawassee River floodplain. The EPA is recommending that a "physical barrier" be used to cover over contaminated soils "until long-term solutions are implemented for floodplain soil." 

This part of Michigan, it seems, will deal with dioxin contamination for years to come.