Guest blog by André Veneman, AkzoNobel — What happens if you ask your friends what they think about chemicals?
Will they mention the risks, the possibility of accidents and injuries, air and water pollution or will they mention the essential chemicals needed in the products that they use every day?
What happens if you ask chemical, coatings and paint companies about product safety standards? Will they talk doom and gloom, the cost of the REACH regulations, the need for a level playing field, or talk only about risk versus hazard and science based approaches? Will they display their dislike for rules and regulations on “substitution” from hazardous to less-hazardous materials? Or do they talk about product stewardship as a means for innovating more sustainable products, new products and services for customers which create longer term value and build a stronger business?
At AkzoNobel for many years we have gone beyond ‘reactive compliance’, and have rigorous innovation programs in place to ‘future proof’ our products not only for new regulation and legislation, but for new customer and societal expectation. With programs such as our customer focused Product Stewardship process, we provide our customers where possible with safer and more effective and sustainable products - which meet or exceed their expectations.
Thanks to ECHA and REACH we have access to excellent assessment tools and strong product safety regulation. ChemSec’s SIN list of hazardous substances also provides us with a relevant and robust overview of future substances of concern.
In fact, at AkzoNobel we see a wide range of opportunities for our industry to accelerate the pace towards zero harm and a non-toxic environment. For example, we would be happy to see all paints being lead-chromate free. AkzoNobel would also like to contribute to a faster global transition to Chromate 6 free coatings for use on coil, Bisphenol A free packaging coatings, non-biocidal anti-fouling coatings and formaldehyde free products. We would like to support a global move from solvent-based to water-borne coatings.
Customer focused product safety is not a burden, it is a great way to move to zero harm and a non-toxic environment, to support our customers with safe products and to increase our sales.
We aim to:
• continue to be 100% in compliance with product safety regulation globally
• restrict / replace the use of over 250 hazardous substances as a response to emerging customer and societal concern, on top of existing regulation
• derive 20% revenue from solutions that offer more sustainability benefits for our customers than competitive products
• offer sustainable product portfolios in all of our market segments to those customers who seek sustainable solutions
• link Product Stewardship with our circular economy programs to increase our share of recycled, sustainably sourced and bio-based materials
• increase company revenues from safer and sustainable product portfolios
Our Planet Possible sustainability strategy starts from the conviction that our planet can provide all resources to offer all people on this planet good living standards, health and wellbeing.
The Sustainable Development Goals offer a great compass to achieve safety, health and wellbeing for all. As a proactive company, we are committed to drive progress on, for example, SDG #3 on good health and wellbeing and SDG #12 on responsible production. Chemicals and coatings companies are the producers of essential ingredients, essential color and essential protection. Their sustainability leaders have a great opportunity to make the transition to zero harm from their products and to positive impact for People and Planet.
André Veneman is Corporate Director Sustainability, Akzo Nobel