AkzoNobel is working in all regions on early detection of long-term societal needs which shape our innovation, including resource scarcity. These insights bring new business opportunities, support swift business adaptation and enable first mover advantage.
We drive our sustainable business imperatives through our products, programs, processes and partnerships. The following are some practical examples, including how they contribute to the global development agenda, represented by the UN SDGs (those most relevant to AkzoNobel are shown above).
Products: Coatings which improve the energy efficiency of old buildings*
Our new Dulux Trade Plus range was devised after listening to the needs and future ambitions of our customers and consumers. Comprised of a ThermaCoat+ system for interior walls and a SmartShield+ solution for exteriors, the products were specially developed to help improve energy efficiency in older buildings – cutting heat loss through walls, delivering energy savings and improving comfort levels.
Homeowners and businesses in developed markets lose millions of euros every year due to heat loss through uninsulated solid walls, which waste up to 45% of heating energy. Because much of our old housing stock will continue to exist for decades, AkzoNobel has developed solutions that can improve the energy performance in older buildings.
*Contributes to SDGs: 371113
Products: Paint which absorbs pollutants*
Dulux Forest Breath is a unique paint range sold in China which can capture and neutralize pollutants, as well as color and protect interior walls. It’s also lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Forest Breath helps improve indoor air quality by capturing formaldehyde and benzene from the atmosphere. By using silver ion, it can kill germs and bacteria to create a healthier home environment, and it is mold resistant.
In collaboration with EY, we have been able to quantify, in monetary terms, the contribution that our products and programs make to society (see Managing sustainability). For Forest Breath, this could be the reduction of negative health impacts due to less formaldehyde inhalation. We discovered that the health benefits amounted to €5 million in 2017 (based on sales of the product in China.) This project has shown that it is possible to put a monetary value on the positive social impact that our products can bring. The implications of this assessment go far beyond the current assessments of product performance. We are replicating the approach for other products and plan to integrate social impact into various parts of our business, such as our innovation activities.
*Contributes to SDGs: 311
Products: Water-based ultraviolet (UV) coatings which help increase capacity and reduce process damage*
Our UV-cured water-based coatings for wood coatings have been designed to help reduce our customers’ overall process costs. The fast-curing formulations contain virtually no VOCs and allow the most compact of line set-ups. The rapid curing means items are ready to be stacked or assembled in as little as six minutes after the coating has been applied. This gives manufacturers unrivalled handle ability and reduces damage from in-process scuffs and knocks.
Water-based UV coating customers gain environmental and social benefits by minimizing VOC emissions and keeping ahead of regulatory requirements, without the cost and complexity of operating VOC abatement systems. As well as reducing environmental impact, this solution ultimately allows our customers to increase capacity, which is frequently dictated by regulatory permits surrounding VOCs. Water-based UV coatings are currently available in the kitchen cabinet, building products and furniture market segments. It’s another example of a ground-breaking innovation which is transforming our industry and increasing the current and future competitiveness of our customers.
*Contributes to SDGs: 31213
Processes: Emission modeling which improves well-being*
We have developed a VOC modeling tool which enables our factories to manage and reduce their VOC emissions in the most cost-effective way. This will allow us to stay ahead of increasingly stringent regulation which places limits on VOC emissions. Reducing VOC emissions also has clear environmental and health benefits. The tool has been piloted at five sites, with plans in place to roll it out across the company in 2018.
*Contributes to SDGs: 31213
Partnerships: Circular chemistry which creates jobs*
AkzoNobel initiated the Waste-to-Chemistry consortium, a flagship project which acts as a catalyst in the transition towards a bio-based and circular economy. Spanning the value chain, this unique partnership comprises Air Liquide, AkzoNobel, Enerkem, the Port of Rotterdam and the City of Rotterdam, the Province of Zuid Holland and Innovation Quarter. Together, we plan to divert waste streams from landfill and incineration, and convert them into valuable chemical building blocks. Deployment of an innovative gasification technology will enable the efficient and cost-effective conversion of waste into methanol, thereby avoiding consumption of fossil fuels and reducing CO2 emissions by at least 250,000 tons per year.
AkzoNobel plans to convert the waste-derived methanol into dimethylether and chloromethanes – key products supplied by our Industrial Chemicals business – which will allow us to offer more sustainable products to our customers. The newly available resources and generated knowledge will also enable new plants and spin-offs, strengthening the regional economic structure. In addition, the plant will create shared social value by having a direct impact on employment – there will be 50 direct and 200 indirect new jobs created – and tax revenues in the region.
*Contributes to SDGs: 9121317
Programs: Community investment bringing color to people’s lives*
Color has an impressive transformational power and, as demonstrated by our “Let’s Colour” program in Brazil (see Note 11), it can leave a lasting legacy. This is evidenced in particular by the work of our Coral brand in helping and inspiring residents of the Santa Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2017, we used the Santa Marta program as a pilot, taking initial steps to measure the social value creation of our programs, in cooperation with EY. The objective of the project was to strengthen decision-making regarding future community investments, as we believe that insight into social needs will help us to better design our programs. We acquired first order of magnitude estimates based on well-being valuation, calibrated to the local situation. We now aim to standardize the valuation methodology (see Managing sustainability).
*Contributes to SDGs: 1117
Volatile organic compounds.
Volatile organic compounds.
An economic system which is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.