Dutch Akzo Nobel seeks bio-based feedstock in sustainability push

16 September 2011 20:34  [Source: ICIS news]

BOSTON (ICIS)--Dutch paints and coatings producer Akzo Nobel plans to adopt more bio-based feedstocks, part of a larger strategy to improve its sustainability record, an executive said on Friday.

“Some may question the overuse of the buzz word ‘sustainability,’” said Frank Sherman, who heads AkzoNobel’s US operations.

“That’s been the challenge how does each company define sustainability?”

Sherman was speaking at the 4th annual ICIS World Chemical Purchasing Summit in Boston.

Akzo Nobel’s top executives are now tied to performance measures relating to sustainability.

For example, 50% of long-term incentives for all executives depend on the company’s peer rankings in industry sustainability indexes.

About 10% of the raw materials used by Akzo Nobel are bio-based, and the company is looking to expand that figure, Sherman said.

Sherman cited soy-based raw materials for epoxy resins, bio-based polyols and poly acids as alternative feedstocks for polyester resins and the possibility of using lignin as a resin.

He said Akzo Nobel has worked on reducing the carbon footprint from its own production, but also has begun measuring the environmental impact from suppliers and customers.

Sherman said downstream customers using trade-protected production can be particularly reticent in disclosing the usage of certain products, but more transparency is needed in order to improve sustainability within the chemical industry.

The sustainability emphasis also can be extended into the life of the product, beyond the consumer to a product’s biodegradable possibilities.

“The end-of-product life is taken into consideration in very early stages,” Sherman said. “We work with customers, suppliers and our own manufacturing people on our own processes it should impact everything we do.”

Sherman said top retailers such as Walmart and Costco are already leading the way in bringing sustainable products to the market.

“It’ll start with the consumer, and it’ll drive throughout the industry,” Sherman said. “People will pay a premium, and even if they don’t, they will demand it in the products and the way we operate.”

($1 = €0.72)

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy
For more on Akzo Nobel’s plants visit ICIS plants and projects
For more on coatings visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Ruth Liao
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