DuPont indicates it may sell its Fluoroproducts business - 13 years after 3M pulled out of the same market

Published:  29 July, 2013

Company says it is exploring strategic alternatives for its Performance Chemicals segment.

According to the DuPont press release, the steps are part of its ‘transformation to a higher growth, less cyclical company’.

Strategic alternatives being considered include a full or partial separation of fluoroproducts businesses via a spin-off, sale or other transaction.

The Performance Chemical segment encompasses Titanium Technologies and Chemicals as well as Fluoroproducts, which in total generated sales of $7.2 billion in 2012.

The company sold its Performance Coatings business in February this year for $4.9 billion in cash to global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group.

“As we discussed at our investors day in May, we have been carefully weighing the strong cash generation of our Performance Chemicals businesses against their cyclicality and lower growth profile, as well as where the power of DuPont’s integrated science can be differentiated,” said DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman. “We are evaluating options for our Performance Chemicals businesses as part of our ongoing plan to deliver higher growth and greater value creation for our shareholders.”

Implications for fluorine-containing fire fighting foam

A paper published in Environmental Sciences Europe (Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) — main concerns and regulatory developments in Europe from an environmental point of view, Lena Vierke, Claudia Staude, Annegret Biegel-Engler, Wiebke Drost and Christoph Schulte), concluded that PFOA fulfilled the REACH PBT-criteria.

PFOA is mainly used as a polymerization aid in the manufacturing of fluoropolymers and in aqueous fluoropolymer dispersions, which are used for paints, photographic film additives, printing and in the textile and paper finishing industries. PFOA is also a potential degradation product of fluorotelomer-containing fire fighting foam (AFFF, FP, FFFP) – unless these are based on the new pure C6 technology pioneered by DuPont (see below, PFOA Stewardship Program).

The paper published by Environmental Sciences Europe concluded PFOA should be identified as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) according to REACH, and should be added as such to the REACH Candidate List.

As a second step, it suggested a restriction proposal be prepared to include PFOA and precursors into REACH Annex XVII, which sets out the list of restrictions on the manufacture, placing on the market and use of certain dangerous chemical substances, mixtures and articles.

PFOA Stewardship Program

In January 2006, former US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Johnson initiated the PFOA Stewardship Program, in which the eight major companies in the industry (including DuPont) committed voluntarily to reduce facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals on a global basis by 95 percent no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content of these chemicals by 2015.

Daikin, DuPont, 3M/Dyneon and Solvay Solexis met the program’s intermediate goal of a 95 percent reduction in global emissions and product content by 2010. The eight participating companies informed EPA IN 2012 that they were on track to phase out long-chain perfluorinated chemicals by the end of 2015.

Industry insiders are wondering whether there are parallels to be drawn between this latest news concerning PFOA and the PFOS story.

  • Operation Florian

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