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Dow exec points to Asia-Pacific sectors in need of innovation

Asia-Pacific markets have an immense need for innovation in sectors such as infrastructure, energy efficiency, access to food and water, and availability of consumer goods to support its rising urbanisation and growing consumer base, Peter Sykes, president for Asia-Pacific at Dow Chemical Company, said recently.

Cashing in on these opportunities, Dow has enjoyed growth in the Asia-Pacific region, now representing 18 per cent of the US-based multinational's global sales. Since 2008, it had by last year doubled the number of plants in the region, doubled the employee base, and gone from US$6.2 billion to $10 billion (nearly Bt320 billion) in annual revenue.

Sykes showcased how Dow's innovative solutions are bringing cleaner water to families across the area, developing better ways of producing food, and utilising the company's expertise to contribute to communities' sustainable development.

"We believe one of the most important drivers of growth in Asia is the creation of new strategic and collaborative partnerships. Partnerships with customers, governments, academia and other industry leaders will help accelerate understanding of local markets and the innovation necessary for Asia to grow," he said.

He also emphasised the valuable opportunities innovation can bring to creating value for their companies, but also the positive long-term contributions the chemical industry can bring generations of lives across Asia and the Pacific.

"We put our industry on a firm footing for a prosperous future, and put a marker down for all to see that the Asia-Pacific chemical industry is not only a vital part of the economy, but a vital part of our sustainable future."

AT&T halfway to goal of 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles

US-based telecommunications multinational AT&T has reached the halfway mark of its commitment to invest up to US$565 million (Bt18 billion) to deploy about 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles over the course of a 10-year period through 2018.

Since AT&T began its commitment, the company has placed more than 7,500 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) in 44 US states. The 7,500th vehicle - a 2013 Chevrolet Express van running on compressed natural gas (CNG) - was delivered to an AT&T technician in Lenexa, Kansas.

The van is part of AT&T's plan to deploy up to 8,000 CNG vehicles to its fleet over a five-year period through the end of the first quarter of this year - the largest US corporate commitment to CNG to date. The 7,500 AFVs it has already placed in service comprise 5,474 CNG, 1,996 hybrid electric, 27 extended-range electric and three all-electric vehicles.

AT&T's deployment of AFVs enabled the company to avoid the purchase of 29 million litres of petrol from the beginning of the programme through the end of 2012. "With the help and support of community leaders all over the country, we've reached this major milestone and brought thousands of alternative-fuel vehicles to US roads," said Jerome Webber, vice president for AT&T global fleet operations.

AT&T was recently ranked No 1 on Corporate Responsibility magazine's 13th annual "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list. AT&T was also included in the 2013 Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index.

UPS set to bring number of LNG stations to 13

UPS plans to invest about US$50 million (Bt1.6 billion) to build an additional nine liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) fuelling stations in the United States, bringing the total number to 13.

Four were announced in April, and all should be operational by the end of the year.

The enhanced LNG fuelling infrastructure will support the operation of about 1,000 UPS LNG tractors that will displace more than 90 million litres of diesel fuel annually. UPS has used LNG vehicles for more than a decade and has benefited from lower fuel prices compared with imported petroleum.

"The natural-gas industry needs companies to commit to using natural gas to help establish a reliable alternative to traditional fuel, and that is just what UPS is doing," said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer. "The UPS strategy is both environmentally friendly and economically viable. LNG is becoming more readily available, plus it's more insulated from market volatilities than diesel fuel."

The expansion will include on-site fuelling stations in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Construction is already under way at previously announced UPS facilities in Tennessee and Texas. Currently, UPS operates LNG tractors in Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; Beaver and Salt Lake City, Utah; and Ontario, California. UPS began using LNG tractors in its delivery fleet in 2002.

"Building these fuelling stations is a solid future investment for UPS," Abney said. "Since vehicles represent approximately 35 per cent of UPS's carbon footprint, a cornerstone of the company's environmental strategy is to support the development and use of lower-emission alternative fuels."

Between 2000 and the end of 2012, the UPS alternative-fuel and advanced-technology fleet logged 475 million kilometres. In 2012, the growing fleet drove 79 million kilometres, a 43-per-cent increase compared with 2011.

Chula gears up Financial Communication Centre

Chulalongkorn Business School, in collaboration with the Townsend Thai Project and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, will launch a Financial Communication Centre, a development programme to empower Thai households with financial-management capabilities.

The centre will build a knowledge platform and train financial advisers to provide educational services regarding financial management to people in rural communities. These services will help communities manage their general household finances as well as prepare for financial risks such as fluctuations in income, chronic illness and premature disability.

"We are very excited about this project because we strongly believe that it will have a long-lasting impact on the welfare of Thai households. Ultimately, the knowledge platform will be useful for public at large," said Dr Sunti Tirapat, director of the Social Innovation Centre at Chulalongkorn Business School.

Dr Pasu Decharin, dean of the school, said: "With our collective insights in modern business administration, our staff and students are creating innovative ways to address social and environmental problems. Such innovation in inclusive development programmes is one of the new directions that our business school is putting an emphasis on."

The Financial Communication Centre is planned as a five-year programme. Focusing on low- and middle-income households in four rural and semi-urban provinces in Thailand - Buri Ram, Si Sa Ket, Chachoengsao, and Lop Buri - the centre will use data provided by households to provide tailored assistance programmes and action plans.

Data made available for this project from the Townsend Thai surveys and the centre's interaction with households will be provided to financial institutions and other relevant organisations to assist in the development of financial products and services that will better serve these communities in the future.

"We are honoured to partner with Chulalongkorn University in helping build strong and sustainable communities and creating a centre for communicating financial awareness across Thailand's rural communities," said ML Chayotid Kridakon, JPMorgan senior country officer for Thailand.

"We are confident this project will equip them with the necessary information and access to expertise to lead them towards a successful future, as well as providing invaluable information to our country's banking system to improve its products and services." With the support of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the centre will have the capacity to train 50 advisers per year and is initially expected to reach 600 households in the four provinces.


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