Waste and water management

Reducing waste and increasing circularity

We’re on a journey towards achieving 100% circular use of materials in our own operations by 2030. To get there, we’re focused on reducing the amount of waste and increasing the circular use of materials.

In 2022, we achieved circular use of materials for 56% of our obsolete material and waste streams. In line with our strategy of reducing, reusing and recycling materials, our material optimization process focuses on diverting slow-moving and obsolete materials from incineration to internal reuse and third-party recyclers and outlets.

Material flow

in kilotons

SBTi approval for carbon reduction target illustration (illustration)

The amount of materials reused by AkzoNobel and third parties (reusable waste and by-products) divided by the total waste and by-products, provides the percentage of circular use of materials.

We drive waste reduction through multi-disciplinary collaboration between our commercial teams, supply chain, manufacturing, and our innovation teams. One objective for all manufacturing sites was to identify waste reduction initiatives. This resulted in the registration of 153 projects making progress on our KPIs. With a combined waste avoidance of about 9,000 tons, our total waste would otherwise be 15% (absolute) higher.

Total waste

in kilotons

Waste means any substance or object arising from our routine operations which we discard or intend to discard.

Our relative waste (kg per ton of material produced) reduced by 5% overall, meeting our annual internal goal of 5%. While the disposal of slow-moving obsolete stock and legacy waste remained a challenge, numerous waste reduction projects helped to achieve the 5% relative reduction.

We’re making progress on our ambition of zero waste to landfill (defined as <1% of total waste). In 2022, our waste to landfill reduced by 16% (absolute) versus 2021 (238 tons) to 2.2% of total waste. Overall, we’ve reduced waste to landfill by 89% (absolute) versus the 2018 baseline.

Water management

Water flow

in milion m3 (total for AkzoNobel)

Planet – Cartoon figure (illustration)

Factory process water other than water that ends up in the product, and water used for drinking, sanitation and irrigation

The bulk of our water use is for cooling (78% in 2022). This occurs at only a handful of our production locations in areas with a low water availability risk (assessed through the Aqueduct tool). Water is also used as a raw material in paints and for cleaning (see below graph).

We concentrate our water consumption reduction efforts at our water intensive sites – which we define as a site that uses more than 15,000m3 per year, excluding cooling water. These sites are expected to meet our target of less than 250 liters of relative fresh water consumption per ton of product. As per our internal, best-in-class benchmark analysis, a site that consumes less than 250 liters per ton of product produced is considered to have “water reuse” measures in place. Currently 34% of our sites (42) meet the definition of a water intensive site, representing 76% of our total fresh water consumption. In 2022, 14 out of the 42 water intensive sites reached the target.

For 2023, we’ll further integrate our approach to water management at water intensive sites with our Climate Risk Management approach. For physical risks related to climate change and our exposure to water stressed areas, refer to Climate change adaptation and risk management.

Water use

in %

Energy use (bar chart)

Total fresh water use

in million m3

Total fresh water use is the sum of the intake of groundwater, surface water and potable water.

Taking solvent recovery to the next level

Colleagues at our Hilden site in Germany reduced waste at the site by more than 50% in 2022.

Our Industrial Coatings sites are focused on reusing and reprocessing solvents to avoid generating waste. We currently operate 19 solvent recovery units across the region, and Asia.

Over the past three years, we’ve installed a total of 14 solvent recovery units in Asia. In 2022, an efficiency improvement program increased the efficiency of these installations from 70% to 90%.

In 2022, our site in Hilden, Germany (pictured at the right) also installed a solvent recovery unit. The cleaning solvents used at the site can now be distilled internally. As a result, waste at the site for the year was reduced by more than 50%, representing 1,800 tons.


Health, safety, environment and security.


Europe, Middle East and Africa.

North America

Includes Mexico.