AkzoNobel’s proactive strategy and industry leading attitude to sustainability, alongside their wider Human Cities initiative, means that the International® product range is designed with sustainability in mind from the outset of product development. AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings business has already met the most stringent demands of existing VOC regulations in the US, the EU and South Korea, in addition to being compliant with the new Chinese legislations. Commenting on these latest developments, Marketing Director Robert Wong said: “We have focused closely on reducing the VOC content of our products and this has proved to be a prudent strategy. Our coatings already have a low VOC content and the vast majority has already met the new regulations in China. We are working to reformulate or replace the few products that do not comply and are confident now that we can claim to be the marine coatings company of choice in air pollution reduction.”
“Meanwhile our chemists continue to research, develop and evaluate new product formulations to meet future VOC regulations, which we believe are likely to become stricter and have a greater global impact. We are in the best position to develop coatings with an improved environmental impact in close cooperation with other subsidiary companies of AkzoNobel. Developing products that offer improved performance while reducing environmental impact is a key focus for us and has been identified as a key customer need.” Mr. Wong added.
What are VOCs?
VOCs are any organic compounds with the vapour pressure above or equal to 10Pa at 20℃ or the initial boiling point below or equal to 260℃ under 101.3kPa standard atmospheric pressure, in accordance with The Emission Standard of Air Pollutants for Shipbuilding Industry published in Shanghai. They react with other pollutants such as exhaust fumes and factory emissions, forming ozone at ground level and contributing to the deterioration of air quality, the creation of smog, and damage to crops and human health.
New regulations in China
Although Chinese VOC regulations vary from region to region, AkzoNobel’s Marine Coating business has taken steps to comply with new regulations introduced in Shanghai from February 1, 2015 since the local regulations are more stringent than national ones. From this date, the Ministry of Finance has levied a Consumption Tax of 4% of invoice value on products containing more than 420 grams per litre (g/l) of VOCs. Thinners and cleaners are exempted from the regulations. Coatings suppliers including companies which import coatings are liable for the tax.
Products with a VOC content of less than 420 g/l must be independently tested and approved by a laboratory which itself is authorized at provincial level. Most of the International® coatings have been tested in this manner, results of which can be found on the relevant product technical datasheet.
The regulations in Shanghai are set out in three separate measures. In addition to the Consumption Tax effective from February last year, Shanghai Environment Protection Bureau introduced the Pollution Expense with effect from October 1. Under this measure, industries discharging VOCs to air – including petrochemicals, packaging and printing companies, coating & ink manufacture, automobile manufacture and shipbuilding – must pay a levy for each kilogram of VOC emitted. The levy is RMB 10 per kg VOC and it will be increased starting from July 1, 2016 during phase II.
A third area of regulation, “The emission standard of air pollutants for shipbuilding industry” is specific to Shanghai by the Shanghai Environment Protection Bureau and was introduced in November 2015. This measure has set specific VOC limits for coating products by coating type, as well as defining the maximum allowable thinner addition level. The category limits will be implemented as of January 1st 2017. A consultation process is currently underway in China to determine whether similar regulations should be introduced on a national basis.
96% of AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings business’ International® products are already compliant with the <420 g/l VOC limit and are therefore exempt from Consumption Tax. Meanwhile, 98% of its products comply with the emission standard of air pollutants for shipbuilding industry Category Limits which will apply specifically in Shanghai from 2017. However, by then, all of its products will comply with this limit requirement.
AkzoNobel’s pioneering approach to aligning its product range with the new China VOC regulations is the latest example of its continuing strategy to cut carbon emissions and raise the sustainability of its business. In a ground-breaking initiative last year, the company launched its Carbon Credits programme designed to provide financial incentives to ship owners or operators who choose top-of-the-range hull coatings offering the highest fuel savings and the greatest reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
Working together with the Gold Standard Foundation, AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings business has already received wide acclaim for its robust and transparent carbon credits methodology, with the Carbon Credits initiative winning several industry awards, such as the Best Offsetting Project awardin the 2015 Voluntary Carbon Market Rankings. Ship owners or operators who engage in the programme reduce their carbon emissions by upgrading a ship’s hull coating from a biocidal antifouling system to a premium, biocide-free advanced hull coating such as AkzoNobel’s Intersleek®, part of the company’s International® range of marine coatings. Intersleek® coatings are proven to increase a vessel’s operating efficiency and reduce CO2 and associated emissions by an average of 9 percent. Carbon credits are awarded based on the reduction in emissions. The reductions are then calculated and independently verified, enabling the ship owner or operator to earn carbon credits. These have a cash value and can be traded or used to offset the cost of the premium hull coating.