Case studies

Take a look at some of our initiatives, projects and partnerships which brought new ideas, innovations and color to our customers, and benefits to society.

  • Voyage of discovery

    It sounds like something out of a fantastical Jules Verne novel, but the Polar Pod – a manned oceanographic platform which will drift around Antarctica – is about to become very real.

    It’s the brainchild of French explorer and environmentalist Jean-Louis Etienne, who will lead a pioneering scientific expedition to study the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which has a major influence on the Earth’s climate.

    The Polar Pod is a fantastic example of how we’re prepared to go to the ends of the Earth to help our customers.

    AkzoNobel has been brought on board as exclusive paints and coatings partner and will support the 1,000-ton platform for the next five years, from construction through to the completion of its three-year mission, which is expected to start in December 2023.

    Standing 100 meters high, the Polar Pod won’t be motorized, so it will be zero emission, silently driven by the circumpolar current – like an ocean-going satellite – as it gradually makes its way around the Antarctic continent.

    It will be supported by a dedicated offshore supply vessel, Perseverance (pictured below), which will be protected by our products. Permanently assigned to the mission, it will leave the nearest port to join the platform on its drift course as it crosses the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

    “Partnering with the Polar Pod expedition is a great way for us to help advance scientific knowledge of the pivotal role the Southern Ocean plays on the Earth’s climate and marine biodiversity,” explains AkzoNobel CEO, Thierry Vanlancker. “We’re looking forward to supporting the team and raising awareness of the program as the mission begins to gather momentum.”

    Adds Jean-Michel Gauthier, Director of the company’s Marine and Protective Coatings business: “As an industry leader in sustainability and a global market leader in marine and yacht coatings, lowering our environmental impact on the planet is a key aspect of our strategy.”

    Polar Pod, view from water (photo)
    Polar Pod size comparison with Big Ben and Statue of Liberty (photo)
    Polar Pod boat in stormy weather (photo)

    Operating in an area that sailors refer to as the Furious Fifties, the Polar Pod will gather data and carry out long-term observations that will be trans-mitted to researchers, oceanographers, climatologists and biologists at 43 scientific institutions in 12 countries. Studies will include: air/ocean exchange measurements, in particular related to carbon; wave dynamics; plankton collection and evaluation of the impact of acidification; acoustic inventory of marine fauna; validation at sea of satellite measurements and aerial observation of marine life.

    Continues Vanlancker: “This is a really exciting partnership and a fantastic example of how we’re prepared to go to the ends of the Earth to help our customers and discover pioneering ways to become even more sustainable.”

  • Bringing light to the darkness

    The power of paint and partnerships helped bring energy and optimism back to a US city which was rocked by an explosion on Christmas Day 2020.

    Let’s Color Nashville – part of our AkzoNobel Cares program – brought together businesses, organizations, artists and volunteers to help transform some of the many boarded up buildings that still bear the scars of the terrible event.

    We partnered with customers Hoover Paint Stores and LKQ Corporation – along with Nashville’s Civic Design Center, Swipe Right Art and the Community Foundation of Middle of Tennessee – to replace the plain plywood boards with more artistic window panels and bring some much-needed color back to the Second Avenue neighborhood.

    “Let’s Color Nashville is a critical project for our downtown businesses to heal and unite,” said Gary Gaston, CEO of the Civic Design Center. “We’re excited to join with AkzoNobel in returning the positive inspiration that boosts the downtown community spirit.”

    Added Ashley Bergeron, who curated the artists and artworks: “Art absolutely heals. There’s no question. I think art is the number one communicator that people can understand in a simple way. This is our small gift back to the community, so when the building owners come back to salvage what they can salvage, they’re walking by beauty instead of a reminder of the mess and the trouble.”

    AkzoNobel supplied around 1,800 liters of wood primer paint from its site in High Point, North Carolina, which was used as the basecoat for boards temporarily covering 30 commercial windows. Teams of volunteers then created vibrant artwork to help brighten up the blighted downtown area.

    Said AkzoNobel volunteer, Jauckque Buford: “Let’s Color Nashville defines what it means to be a member of this community and the power of paint is a way for us to demonstrate our unity and love for each other. That’s who we are.”

    Although the windows will eventually be repaired and the artistic panels will come down, they won’t be thrown away. They’ll be gifted to the local community.

    People carrying an artwork in Nashville (photo)
    Person painting a rainbow in Nashville (photo)
    People painting the walls in Nashville (photo)
  • Building more resilience

    Our world is changing – and so is the way we look at buildings. Recent global events have impacted how we use them, while population expansion and economic growth will inevitably mean we’ll need more of them.

    Tower in Sunset, view from water angle (photo)

    Given that the trend for urbanization will continue unabated, the way that new buildings are constructed – and the capacity for existing buildings to be adapted and renovated – continue to create new opportunities.

    According to the World Green Building Council (WGBC), the carbon emissions generated by operating buildings, along with the carbon embodied in building materials and activities, account for almost a third of global carbon emissions.

    Why does this interest a company like AkzoNobel? Well, we’re a major supplier of sustainable paints and coatings to the construction industry. We provide one of the largest portfolios of paints and coatings solutions for green buildings, including powder coatings, coil coatings, protective coatings and wood coatings technologies. It means we can make an important contribution to the ongoing transformation of the built environment, which aims to reduce the of buildings, increase circularity in buildings and make them healthier places to live and work.

    Our extensive portfolio of sustainable solutions is qualified for use on green buildings in countries around the world. The products we supply can help in achieving green building certifications (or green labels) such as LEED, WELL and BREEAM. There are three broad areas where we really make a difference. We supply products that have an impact on:

    • Climate action – providing products that enable lower energy consumption in the application/use phase and contain lower embodied carbon
    • Health and well-being – bringing health and well-being benefits to users of buildings by, for example, improving indoor air quality
    • Circularity – enabling waste reduction, using less energy and resources, using more renewable and reused materials, and offering longer-lasting performance

    We’re an active partner of the WGBC, driving the development of more green and sustainable buildings for everyone. As the first paints and coatings company to have its science-based sustainability targets officially validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), our commitment to building resilience for climate, people and economies is clear.

    Ultimately, it’s all about using our pioneering spirit and centuries of paints and coatings expertise to deliver the most sustainable solutions for our customers and the world around us.

    You can learn more about our commitment to green buildings on our website.

    Building at night, view from above with street lights (photo)
    Two towers at sunset (photo)
  • Circular vision becoming a reality

    Stand by for a prime example of why we set up our Paint the Future collaborative innovation ecosystem. It’s the story of how Dutch startup Alucha entered our inaugural global challenge in 2019 and, two years later, is engaged in a pilot project with AkzoNobel to supply a circular raw material – extracted from paper sludge – which is being used in one of our products.

    Based in Arnhem, Alucha develops innovative waste recycling solutions. They entered our first ever Paint the Future startup challenge hoping to generate interest for their circular alternative to calcium carbonate, a mineral which is applied in paint and fillers. After being named as one of the five winners, a sourcing agreement was put in place and we started working together.

    The potential was obvious. They were developing an extraction technology for recovering minerals and bio-oil from paper sludge which promised major sustainability benefits. Using Alucha’s circular solution can take mining of calcium carbonate out of the equation. With the feedstock being paper sludge, it also upcycles part of a waste stream, contributing to the . All important factors when considering our science-based target of reducing carbon emissions by 50% across the full value chain by 2030.

    “Calcium carbonate traditionally comes out of mines and quarries in great quantities and is used in a variety of everyday products, many of which are eventually thrown away,” explains Alucha CEO, Gijs Jansen (pictured). “Either way, you lose the calcium carbonate, with any subsequent burning through waste incineration generating carbon emissions. Our technology to recover calcium carbonate means less waste and less reliance on mining.”

    As part of a pilot project, we carried out extensive testing with Alucha to find a suitable product. Their circular mineral is now being used as an alternative for mined calcium carbonate and clay in one of our pre-deco exterior/masonry fillers. The launch product will become available as part of our Moltofill Aussen range in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and as part of our Polyfilla Exterior Plaster range in France, Italy and Belgium. The product meets our criteria of “reduced, reused and renewed material use”, qualifying as a sustainable solution and helping our customers to work with more circular products.

    Our ongoing work with Alucha clearly illustrates that achieving our People. Planet. Paint. ambitions relies heavily on collaborative innovation, and it will help to guide our future partnerships.

    Alucha is now planning to open its first circular calcium carbonate production facility. The aim is to start with a small scale operation (75 tons), and increase this to 13 kilotons per year in 2022.

    Paper rercycling machine of Alucha (photo)
    Paper sludge in a persons hand (photo)
    Alucha CEO Gijs Jansen (photo)
  • All Eyes on AkzoNobel Art Foundation’s 25th anniversary

    AkzoNobel’s Art Foundation has been collecting art for more than 25 years, underlining the company’s dedication to supporting culture and the arts. This called for a special celebration during 2021 with the opening of the All Eyes jubilee exhibition at the company’s head office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Wall inside the AkzoNobel Art Foundation (photo)

    The exhibition showcases works from past and present and offers a contemporary look at the world around us, with new and experienced talent hanging side by side. The works on display unfold to present a diverse spectrum of images and stories, constantly giving rise to new connections.

    All Eyes shares a compelling mix of styles, including special treasures from the collection, works of art fresh from the studio and early acquisitions that proudly justify their position as milestones in the changing spirit of the age.

    “Since the AkzoNobel Art Foundation was established in 1995, our aim has been to acquire works that reflect the world as we experience it,” says Hester Alberdingk Thijm, Director of AkzoNobel’s Art Foundation (pictured below). “We look for artists who are questioning and transforming our global society. All Eyes is the culmination of more than 25 years of powerful images and stories.”

    Three People at the AkzoNobel Art Foundation (photo)
    Artwork saying "What If Women Ruled The World" (photo)
    Look into the AkzoNobel Art Foundation (photo)

    Artists on display include Otobong Nkanga, Remy Jungerman, Melanie Bonajo, Afra Eisma, Ger van Elk, Susan Hiller, Louise Giovanelli, Yael Bartana, Emma Talbot, Roger Hiorns and Jan Andriesse.

    In line with AkzoNobel’s proud heritage, color, innovation and technology are among the main collecting themes. “The AkzoNobel Art Foundation is generally regarded as being one of the most progressive corporate collections in Europe – partly because it has always regarded diversity as an important principle,” adds Thierry Vanlancker, AkzoNobel CEO and Chair of the AkzoNobel Art Foundation. “Out of more than 1,800 artworks, half have been created by women and many are by non-Western artists. With this new exhibition, we’re proud to celebrate that diversity and the pioneering spirit we share in art, science and business.”

    The All Eyes exhibition was opened by Rein Wolfs, Director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (pictured below on the left along with Hester Alberdingk Thijm and Thierry Vanlancker).

Carbon footprint

The total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused during a defined period of a product’s lifecycle. It is expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents CO2(e) emitted. Greenhouse gases include CO2, CO, CH4, N2O and HFCs, which have a global warming impact. We also include the impact of VOCs in our targets.

Circular economy

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.