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Thursday, 22 October 2020

AkzoNobel and Solvay demonstrate their Sustainability credentials yet again!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013 | Posted by: Tony Mash, TMA Consulting Inc.

It has been an exciting few months for those like myself who are committed to the promotion of Sustainable Development in the Coatings Industry. It seems as if the development of a sustainable Coatings Industry is being made at an ever-increasing pace.  

A few weeks ago, AkzoNobel and Solvay announced an unprecedented three year deal in which AkzoNobel guarenteed to buy volumes of glycerine-based epichlorohydrin indirectly via the epoxy resins its purchases from Solvay‘s customers. This is another step forward in AkzoNobel’s quest to more than double the proportion of its purchasing slate that is bio-based by 2020.

Both environmental and economic aspects of Sustainability come into play here. In environmental terms, Solvay has published a Life Cycle Analysis demonstrating the eco-efficiency of its "Epicerol" product. AkzoNobel has taken a broad view of the elements of the Product Life Cycle that are under its control and through its global procurement strategy influenced for sustainable change two steps away in the value chain.

As far as the economic pillar of Sustainability is concerned, the petrochemical pundits are expecting propylene supply to become tighter in the wake of the refinery industry transitioning towards sources of raw materials with higher C2 content extracted by fracking. Diversifying away from petrochemicals and C3s in particular looks a prudent long term move.

However, whether the glycerine is sourced as a by-product of biodiesel production or rendered animal fat, there is still a concern that this technology is taking something away from the food chain. This is where I applaud AkzoNobel’s recognition of both first and second generation bio-feedstocks. The former being linked to the food chain and the latter being based on waste cellulosics. It becomes evident that the Coatings Industry needs to move to second generation feedstocks as soon as they are available.          

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