Paints and coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel is opening a new powder coatings plant in Changzhou, China, that will help the company meet the growing demand for more sustainable coatings solutions, the company says. The facility – one of the largest of its kind in the world, according to the company – is the result of a $40 million investment that will supply Interpon and Resicoat products, mainly to the automotive, architectural and general industrial sectors.
The new Changzhou plant itself will be “a living demonstration” of the company’s commitment to sustainability, AkzoNobel says. In addition to supplying only VOC and solvent-free products, the plant also uses advanced technology such as a vacuum drum waste water recycling system. This helps to achieve full recycling of waste water and zero waste water emissions.
Product Development Driven by Regulations, Customer Demand
The development of AkzoNobel’s sustainable products, beginning about four years ago, was driven in part by demands of the market.
“Customers want more sustainable products,” Alexander Zapf, AkzoNobel’s RD&I manager for Performance Additives, Building & Construction, told Environmental Leader. “Architects and builders are demanding it.”
Another driver of new products was shifting regulations. “We saw standards changing and prepared for it,” Zapf said.
Challenges with New, Sustainable Product Lines
The company’s key customers mostly understand that moving toward more sustainable paints and coatings is a necessity. “Property managers, architects and builders are demanding more sustainable solutions,” Zapf said. “In some places, like California, it’s driven by laws. These customers know it’s the way to go – they don’t have a choice.”
Still, he said, it’s difficult at times to overcome the fact that the company’s sustainable products are sometimes more expensive than their less sustainable counterparts.
Another challenge is in the actual development of the product. “It can be a challenge to make the products perform well if we’re using more sustainable materials, and that can add price,” Zapf told us.
Still a Differentiator
From a business perspective, overcoming such challenges in order to continue to provide more environmentally responsible products is a necessity. “It’s a differentiator for us, because other companies aren’t doing as much [in the sustainability space],” said Zapf.
AkzoNobel is a winner of a 2018 Environmental Leader Top Product of the Year Award for its Elotex FL2280 and FL2200.