PPG – Community Accountability (2010)

Outcome: 6%

Shareholders request the Board of Directors to report to shareholders, within six months, on how the corporation ensures that it responsibly discloses its environmental impacts in all of the communities where it operates. The report should be prepared at reasonable cost; omit proprietary information; and go above and beyond existing legal obligations and legal compliance systems. The report should contain the following:

  1. How the corporation makes available reports regarding its emissions and environmental impacts on land, water, and soil—both within its permits and emergency emissions—to members of the communities where it operates;
  2. How the corporation integrates community environmental accountability into its current code of conduct and business practices; and
  3. The extent to which the corporation’s activities have negative health effects on individuals living in economically poor communities.

PPG is a global supplier of coatings, chemicals, with over 140 facilities worldwide.
PPG is committed to “operating in a manner that is protective of people and the environment” and “is focused on stewardship and conservation, which not only helps protect the environment, but also gives PPG a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”  (2008 Corporate Sustainability Report).
Yet, a recent analysis by Riskmetrics ranks PPG “worst in sector for Toxics Release Inventory emissions normalized by US sales.
A report by noted scientist Wilma Subra links PPG’s Lake Charles facility’s emissions to documented medical conditions afflicting residents of neighboring Mossville, LA. (Chemical and Industrial Sources of the Chemicals Associated with the Medical Symptoms and Health Conditions of Mossville Residents, 5/25/09.)  PPG is named as a source for over 60% of the chemicals identified and associated with medical ailments, the highest correlation rate of the five industrial plants analyzed in the study.
PPG was named as one of the top 100 U.S. corporate air polluters in 2006, according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts. (http://www.peri.umass.edu/ej/)
We believe that corporations have a moral responsibility to be accountable for their environmental impacts. No corporation can operate without the resources that local communities provide, but often these communities bear the brunt of corporate activities.
The proponents are also concerned about the effects of corporate activities on low-income areas and communities of color.  Many communities bordering industrial facilities, including those owned by PPG, are majority African American.  One study has found that industrial facilities operating in more heavily African-American counties “seem to pose greater risk of accident and injury than those in counties with fewer African-Americans.”  (“Environmental Justice: Frequency and Severity of U.S. Chemical Industry Accidents and the Socio-economic Status of Surrounding Communities,” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, (2004)).  We believe that all communities have a right to clean air, water, and soil.
Stakeholder engagement is featured prominently in PPG’s 2008 CR report, but no formal stakeholder engagement policy is in effect. The requested report would do much to assure shareholders and other stakeholders that the corporation takes seriously its ethical responsibilities to all of the communities that host its facilities.

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