NOT CURRENT YEAR
AkzoNobel scores slightly higher in this year’s ChemScore, halting the drop of last year’s ranking, and positions itself in 11th place with the grade C. The number of hazardous substances that the company produces or uses has decreased from 18 to 9, due to divestments, and the number of persistent substances has been reduced from two to one. The company’s new target for circular processes, the implementation of circular design principles, and the goal of becoming a zero-waste company by 2030 are other parameters adding to its score. However, the recent acquisition of New Nautical Coating Akzo, which was involved in an environmental violation in 2014, gives AkzoNobel a lower score in the controversies category.
Opportunities for improvement
- Reduce hazardous portfolio
Scientists agree that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary and become an urgent global problem. This threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, by damaging the biological and physical processes that underpin all life. Since AkzoNobel has 9 hazardous chemicals in its production portfolio, a paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number further. AkzoNobel should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of total revenue of its hazardous substances. It should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical and an annual progression report. If the company continues to produce any hazardous substance, it needs to present a rationale for its essential use, motivate the production volume and state how much money it spends on research and development to find a safer alternative.
- Increase circularity
The chemical industry finds itself at the beginning of the value chain. Therefore, it has a responsibility to act fast and ambitiously against the ever-growing scarcity of our planet’s resources. But AkzoNobel receives only four points for circularity, since we were unable to identify any circular products or processes in the company business. Nor did we see a decrease in hazardous waste or use of recycled hazard-free feedstock. For these reasons, it is important that AkzoNobel starts by identifying its current production and use of circular products and processes, and then specifies how many percent of its total revenue comes from circular products. AkzoNobel should also develop and present a strategy, which includes an activity plan, with clear indicators for how to expand the area of circular products and processes.
- Establish clear phase-out plan
AkzoNobel has a model for identifying hazardous substances, an ambition to substitute them where safer alternatives are available, and processes in place to prevent the introduction of hazardous substances in the business. However, a clear plan for phasing out hazardous substances from existing products – and designing them out from new ones – is missing.