To: Great Lakes Board of Directors
Subject: Great Lakes: Great Decisions
Since the mid-1990’s there is growing worldwide pressure, especially from environmentalists, for us to stop making the lead additive via our subsidiary, Octel Associates, because a scientific study in the 1960’s found that lead caused brain damage in children, respiratory problems in the elderly, and damaged the air and soil quality. Lead additives have been banned in the U.S. and other developed countries, but are still used in developing countries. We have publically admitted that our lead additive is our biggest money maker, that it is extremely harmful, and that we are a committed to environmental responsibility. We have stated that many of the chemicals that we produce were replacements for many existing chemicals that are far more harmful and noxious than lead. Environmentalists have suggested that we contribute some of Octel’s profits towards subsidizing a more rapid transition away from TEL.
If Great Lakes decided to continue supplying lead additives to developing countries, environmental opposition would grow stronger, and developing countries would eventually reach the point where it was more economically feasible to transition to unleaded.
Ending production immediately would have a negative impact on profits and on countries that have not made the transition yet from leaded to unleaded gasoline for their cars and machinery. Outside the industrialized world, there are not enough refineries capable of producing unleaded gas, many cars had no catalytic converters, and if the cars ran on lower-octane unleaded gasoline, it would create more pollutants.
The best option is for us is to aggressively phase out of the market place with a five year deadline. In the meantime, we will push the governments in these...