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Are people willing to pay more for more sustainable products? By and large the answer is no, says Linda Fisher, DuPont's chief sustainability officer. "What our customers and their customers are looking for are products that are greener, more energy-efficient, but they'd like to keep the same price point. So they're demanding more. That's really where we see our science and innovation coming into play -- what we like to see as the differentiator between some of our products and those of our competitors."
Government has a role to play in that, she says. "For example, we sell a lot of paint and coatings to the automobile industry. Some of the air standards in many parts of the world have required the companies that use our paint and coatings to get their VOC -- their volatile organic compounds -- down. We've had to design new paint and coatings that make those companies far more able to comply with their local environmental regulations. So the government through the regulatory process kind of forced a demand for some of these products."
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