Corporate Social Responsibility of Companies Producing PFOA Containing Waxes for Cross-Country Skiing

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The chemical industry is a particularly sensitive sector that very often works with toxic, harmful and dangerous substances. This paper offers insight into the corporate socially responsible (CSR) behaviour of a specific segment of the chemical industry—the production of fluorinated ski waxes. Perfluorinated compounds, which excel in water and fat stability and repellency, are nowadays considered as harmful to human health and nature. During 2020, the basic compound, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), will be banned, and finding its replacement will be a difficult task. So far, there are no alternatives in terms of environmentally friendly compounds that can maintain the desired properties of extreme ski glide. Based on a questionnaire distributed to twenty wax producers worldwide, we have concluded that, although the attitudes of companies towards CSR certification was rather negative (87.5%), and companies had not developed or documented any CSR policy/strategy with specific goals, they found CSR activities/instruments beneficial and important. The survey highlighted the fact that companies were aware that their products are dangerous for the environment, and that environmental issues are important for all of the responders, despite them being mostly without certified systems. The size of a company had no significant effect on their attitude. Micro and small producers were involved in raising awareness of environmental policies and responsibilities to the same extent (maybe even more) as medium or large companies. We also found varying behaviours between companies involved in environmental programs and those who were not. The companies involved felt a strong attitude towards all three pillars of CSR, which are the environment, as well as social and economic aspects. Those companies not involved had a strong attitude towards their customers, but not towards their employees, suppliers or the wider community. They also had stronger feelings about the quality of their products and economic profit, but without a strong approach to the related environmental issues. The Norwegian approach and the commitment of the company Swix to CSR are two positive examples leading to a fluorine-free future.
corporate social responsibility, sustainability, perfluorinated compounds, fluorine-containing waxes, PFOA