GreenBits: Briefs for the Week of Oct. 6, 2000

GreenBits: Briefs for the Week of Oct. 6, 2000

Highlights from the world of business and the environment: DuPont Unit Sees Sales as Sustainability Metric ... Breakthrough in Fuel Cell System For Cars ... BC Hydro Funds Non-Timber Forest Products Study

DuPont Unit Sees Sales as Sustainability Metric

NEW YORK, NY, Oct. 2, 2000 – Advanced Fibers Systems, a unit of the DuPont Company which produces bulletproof Kevlar and fireproof Nomex material, announced it has begun to track growth and progress against several goals and metrics geared to sustainable development, according to CutterEdge Environment. For environmental performance, AFS says it wants to reduce water use by 25% and bring its energy consumption back to 1990 levels by 2005. DuPont’s economic target is for AFS to deliver greater than 12% after-tax operating income every year. AFS says it is supplementing that effort by aiming to double shareholder value per pound produced by 2005, using 1999 as the base year. AFS also said its new social performance targets compel the company to double the number of workers protected by Kevlar and Nomex in industrial countries within five years and to increase by five times the number of workers using the garments in developing countries. Diane Gulyas, vice president and general manager of AFS, says she believes these market-driven goals qualify as legitimate socially desirable targets, as the products safeguard correctional institution employees, firefighters, and workers in the auto, chemical, and utility industries, in addition to police officers and military personnel.

Breakthrough in Fuel Cell System For Cars

WAHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2000 – Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced that International Fuel Cells (IFC), in partnership with the Department of Energy, has developed a gasoline-powered fuel cell system powerful enough to operate an automobile. The further development of the highly efficient fuel cell system will allow consumers to fill up fuel cell-powered vehicles at their local gasoline stations, while increasing their gas mileage to a target 80 miles per hour. The collaboration between the Department of Energy and IFC is intended to result in the delivery of the fully integrated 50-kilowatt IFC Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell power plant, which incorporates both a fuel processor and cell stack assembly. This power plant is undergoing testing at IFC and has achieved more than 80% of rated power. It is scheduled for delivery to DOE next month.

BC Hydro Funds Non-Timber Forest Products Study

VANCOUVER, B.C. Canada, Oct. 6, 2000 – BC Hydro is funding an innovative two-year field study on the commercial potential for using power line rights-of-way to grow plants with medicinal, nutritional or other beneficial properties. Cognetics International Research of B.C. and a local biologist will carry out the non-timber forest products project. Hydro has committed $150,000 to the Sunshine Coast study and has provided access to a privately owned section of Hydro right-of-way on the Sechelt Peninsula. "Through projects like these, Hydro can use its resources and sustainability expertise to help other industries," says BC Hydro vegetation management strategic coordinator Tom Wells. "Economic growth doesn't have to sacrifice environmental sustainability; revitalizing the resource sector, while protecting natural spaces, can benefit everyone." A report by Cognetics' Russell Wills and Simon Fraser University's Richard Lipsey sees strong potential for B.C.'s NTFP industries. The market in 1997 was estimated at $300 million, with the potential to grow to 10 times that amount over the next decade, or roughly one-fifth of total forest-derived revenues for the province.

Environment News Service contributed to these reports.