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A Sustainable Technology Seminar Series:

Policy/Economic Analysis of
Sustainable Chemical/Material Technologies

"Towards Corporate Sustainability: Lessons from the Chemical Industry"

Tom Lyon
Dow Professor of Sustainable Science, Technology, and Commerce
University of Michigan

Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1424

See the complete list of speakers in this series, with brief biographies.

Tom Lyon

For 30 years, the chemical industry has been at the center of the movement towards corporate sustainability. Public concerns about chemical toxicity, regulatory threats, industry self-regulation, and demands for transparency have made the industry a focus of much of the best economic research on corporate sustainability. Driven by public outrage over the 1984 Bhopal disaster, the industry quickly adopted a proactive stance with its Responsible Care program that has attracted much scholarly attention and offers important lessons for other self-regulatory efforts. Public demands for transparency around toxic chemicals soon led to the creation of the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, which has taught us much about pollution prevention, voluntary programs, and the impact of stakeholder pressure. The EPA’s 33/50 Program for reducing toxic chemical use is the source of much of our empirical knowledge about how voluntary programs work. Additionally, the Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Chemicals has not only shrunk the hole in the ozone layer, but is arguably the most successful weapon in the fight against climate change. Today the industry continues to face ongoing global regulatory challenges but also has an extraordinary opportunity to offer sustainability solutions to other industries.

Tom Lyon is the Dow Professor of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce at the University of Michigan. His current research focuses on corporate environmental information disclosure, greenwash, the causes and consequences of renewable energy policy, and voluntary programs for environmental improvement. He is a leader in using economic analysis to understand corporate environmental strategy and how it is shaped by emerging government regulations, non-governmental organizations, and consumer demands. He earned his PhD and MS in engineering economic systems from Stanford University and his BSE in civil engineering from Princeton University.


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