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14. Sep 2021 | Coatings Technologies

From Nuremberg to the screen: First virtual ECS Conference

For the first time in its history, the European Coatings Show Conference took place virtually on September 13 and 14. The event provided an extensive and varied programme and created exchanges between the over 500 participants, who joined from all over the globe.

Behind the scenes of the digital ECS Conference: European Coatings editors Kirsten Wrede (left) and Damir Gagro in the studio preparing for the event.

This year, the ECS Conference looked very different. Instead of the usual setting in the conference centre in Nuremberg, this year the attendees participated from their homes or offices.

Keynote focused on SDGs

As usual, the conference started with the Plenary Session. After a welcome address from European Coatings, the participants were treated to a keynote speech, which was given by Joost Broeders, Technical Director of Baril Coatings in the Netherlands. He gave a presentation entitled “Living in challenging and interesting times as paint chemists – how SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and true value impact reporting give guidance”.

Broeders (picture on the left) started out with an impressive graphic on the Earth Overshot Day, underlining that the day, where the demand for resources exceeds what Earth can naturally regenerate within a year, is progressing every year, therefore demonstrating the need that a drastic change is needed. He then listed some of the initiatives, tackling these issues, such as of course the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) by the United Nations as well as the Green Deal by the European Commission. These goals of course influence the paints and coatings industry in a great extent.

Broeders then proceeded to give some examples on how Baril Coatings is implanting change and the SDGs. The company, who has put an emphasis on sustainability for around 20 years, for instance uses solar panels as well as wind energy for their energy supply, utilises electric cars and puts a great emphasis on recycling and reducing plastic packaging and training internally as well as external clients. Joost Broeders also underlined that the company is trying to use as many bio-based and locally sourced raw materials as possible and that testing and certificates are key. “But we can’t do this on our own”, he stated. “We team up with partners throughout the supply chain.”

Broeders ended his keynote speak with the Dutch words “groen is doen”, meaning be green, just do it and emphasised that there are merely 100 months left to the 2030 climate goals, urging the audience that a lot of positive change can be done now.

Who was the winner?

Afterwards, the winner of the European Coatings Show award was announced. The prize went to Dr Partha Majumdar of Dow Coating Materials, USA, for his paper: “Novel formulation optimization using Big Data, modeling, and predictive tools”. “My team at Dow and I are honoured to receive this prestigious award”, said Majumdar, who had joined the plenary even though his local time in the U.S. was 3 am in the morning.

The jury was convinced by the forward-looking focus on digitization, one of today’s megatrends, the topic of advanced data analytics and machine learning. In addition to a sculpture, there was a prize money of 2000 Euros, which will be donated to a charity as Majumdar could not accept the money.

Majumdar also presented his findings in the digitization session which took part in the morning. The other morning sessions also included the EU-project Decoat, pigments, powder coatings as well as automotive coatings.

In the afternoon, sessions on printing inks, functional and smart coatings, adhesives and sealants as well as on architectural coatings and the projects CHOPIN and Antisoil followed.

Many topics in the focus

The second day of the conference also featured a wide variety of topics. The conference started off in the morning with the sessions construction chemicals, wood coatings, radiation curing, water-borne coatings and protective coatings 1. In the afternoon, the topics bio-based coatings, polyurethanes, testing and measuring, novel materials and protective coatings II were in the focus.

As on the first day, the Match Making Carousel, which brought together participants with the same interests in short video conference, was very popular.

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