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Embracing Sustainability Through the Entire Coatings and Adhesives Value Chain

SpecialChem – Oct 13, 2023

TAGS:  Sustainability / Natural Coatings    

Embracing Sustainability in Coating Industry This is a sponsored article by Omya.

During the April 2023 European Coatings Show (ECS) in Nüremberg, Germany, Arkema brought together key professionals from various segments of the coatings industry to explore the impact and opportunities of sustainability, as well as the far-reaching effects of decarbonization and circularity trends.

In the panel: Leaders from Arkema, Omya, Bostik, FECC, PPG, Perstorp

The discussion was joined by stakeholders, representing different players in the value chain, such as retailers, brand owners, formulators, distributors, and raw material suppliers. All of them seek to adapt and transform their practices to meet the evolving demands of a more environmentally conscious market.

SpecialChem attended this engaging discussion and in this article, we’ve summarized the highlights from the leading experts focusing on sustainability.

Importance of Sustainability & Its Significance in Coatings, Adhesives, and Construction Industry

Richard Jenkins, Senior Vice President, Coating Solutions at Arkema, opened the discussion by emphasizing the significance of sustainability. He mentioned that amidst a profound industry shift, the companies are propelled by fresh expectations from customers, consumers, citizens, investors, governmental bodies, and dedicated employees. These expectations resonate throughout the entire value chain, as some responsible companies are uniting in the concern for climate change and the imperative of conserving precious natural resources.

Research reveals that around 87% of consumers are urging brands to take immediate action to foster sustainability in the future. There is a desire for enhanced transparency for making well-informed choices. Sustainability has transcended being a mere concept and has transformed into a profound sense of purpose, garnering mounting significance for companies across the globe. It encompasses a diverse spectrum of social, environmental, and economic dimensions.

There are new thoughts and actions required to meet the new expectations and focus on connecting the downstream consumer and market needs for upstream innovation capabilities. An open value chain ecosystem is required to achieve sustainability challenges. The responsibilities are shared in the transformation and companies are excited about working together on the important topic alongside partners from across the value chain.

Brand owners commit to new consumer expectations

Anne Hallonet, Global Sustainability Manager at Bostik Durable Goods, part of the adhesive solutions segment of Arkema, shared her thoughts that brand owners, in a wide variety of industries from the DIY/home sector to sport and apparel, have increasingly integrated sustainability parameters. This integration has deeply impacted the value chain, motivating manufacturers to enhance product sustainability and promote eco-friendly solutions.

Innovative Materials for Sustainable World - Arkema
Innovative Materials for Sustainable World by Arkema (Source: Arkema)1

Coatings and Adhesives Manufacturers Enhance Sustainability Over the Entire Product Life Cycle

The European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC) is not only the voice of Europe's chemical distributors but also brings together players from the entire chemical value chain (such as producers, logistics' companies, and IT service providers) in the pursuit of innovative, sustainable solutions.

During the event, Dorothee Arns, MD of the European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC), highlighted that sustainability and many other current issues are so big that one sector alone cannot solve them. Instead, the whole ecosystem must actively work together to achieve progress quickly.

One of FECC's missions is to offer a forum to orchestrate these initiatives, for example, when some FECC member companies proactively implemented the circular economy concept in practice at a very early stage. In the so-called Danish GEAR project using chemical waste as a resource successfully demonstrated the potential of waste materials to serve as valuable inputs for creating new products in different value chains, giving several additional “lives” to chemicals, while distributors connected the dots between value chains, which had never worked together beforehand. New, exciting business opportunities coupled with significant savings in waste and emissions. The project is now rolling out on a pan-European level.

The emphasis from the paints and coatings manufacturer PPG was to highlight the importance of collaboration across the value chain. It is critical to seize the opportunity to work together to identify methods for enhancing the life cycle and sustainability performance of coatings products while simultaneously improving their quality, durability, and aesthetic attributes.

In the conversation, Nadine Nicolai, Global Business Development Director-Construction at Omya, advocated that when entering a collaboration, emphasize our commitment to ‘together we can do more with less’. Omya focuses on reducing the carbon footprint in applications pertaining to paints, coatings, adhesives, and sealants. She elaborated that before impacting downstream performances, each company in the value chain must address scope I and II emissions responsibly. By doing their homework well, they can pave the way for positive environmental contributions further down the value chain and leverage other industry experiences.

Learn how innovation with Omyasphere enables energy savings through thermal insulation. With the common goal of sustainability, Bostik collaborated with Omya to develop lightweight solutions using Omya minerals that reduce carbon footprints and enable lightweight designs.

The Importance of Thinking and Acting as a Value Chain Ecosystem by Strengthening Synergies

Collaborations N. Nicolai highlighted the value of collaborative efforts and idea-sharing with thought leaders to discover collective solutions. Although various aspects are already adequately regulated, the implementation process often proves to be time-consuming.

The Green Deal aims to help, yet it remains crucial to adopt a value chain ecosystem mindset to expedite decarbonization efforts even before regulations come into force. Facilitating the exchange of pain points and needs at various levels is imperative to accomplish this goal.

Taking an example of the power of exchange, a collaborative effort led to a groundbreaking sustainable innovation targeting the removal of moisture in the production of specific types of sealants. Moisture poses a significant challenge for sealants during their manufacturing process and storage. Presently, there are two options available: either subjecting them to prolonged heating at temperatures exceeding 100 °C, or introducing additional chemicals to eliminate moisture.

She shared her insight that through open collaboration and the exchange of ideas, the pain points associated with this issue surfaced. After an intensive five-year period of research and development, along with extensive trials and market validation, a functional calcium carbonate with remarkably low moisture content was successfully developed. This game-changing innovation now enables more efficient production, requiring less energy or reducing reliance on chemicals that might potentially be banned under the Green Deal's regulations. N. Nicolai shared that it might be possible to develop this sustainable solution without collaborating with the value chain but probably not as rapidly as it is done today.

Calcium Carbonates by Omya

Adding to this, Mats Hägerström, EMEA Sustainability Leader at PPG, gave his outlook on collaborating with stakeholders upstream and downstream for sustainability.

  • Upstream: There must be dialogue with suppliers to understand the full sustainability value proposition.
  • Downstream: There is a focus on understanding the drivers affecting customers, such as legislative aspects.

Leaders throughout the value chain must incorporate these drivers into discussions with raw material suppliers, exploring various means like raw material substitution, biobased materials, and recycling for significant sustainability improvements.

Issue of Sustainability Raised at the Top of the Value Chain

Jenny Klevås, Global Marketing Director at Perstorp, stressed that being a company very early in the value chain gives the opportunity to make a huge difference for many industries and companies. To achieve the sustainability goals, we need to ensure that we communicate effectively with all stakeholders along the value chain. But we also need to use robust methods and strategies in our sustainability work.

To accelerate the transformation, it is crucial to listen to and talk to the market, including customers and downstream players. Often, we need to educate downstream players on sustainability so that their decisions align with what's possible from a raw material perspective. Internally, we also need to educate ourselves to enable informed and constructive conversations.

Hélène Pernot, Head of Coating Sustainable Offer at Arkema, expressed her belief that to transform the world we live in, it is essential to change the materials we use.

Success in sustainability efforts hinges on maintaining strong connections, as the risk of losing touch with downstream partners and consumers is a genuine concern. This underscores the vital role of value-chain communication. Innovation is no longer an isolated pursuit but rather a collective endeavor, particularly in a world where circularity is becoming the norm. Significant progress can only be achieved through collective adaptation and exploration of novel collaborative approaches that go beyond the conventional customer-supplier relationship.

The role of the leaders is to bridge the gap between consumer expectations, market demands, and upstream innovation capabilities by investing in technologies that address both sustainability and performance challenges.

A Presentation by Jenny Klevås from Perstorp and Hélène Pernot from Arkema at the European Coatings Show 2023
(Source: Perstorp Group)2

Achieving a rapid industry transformation by overcoming obstacles together

There is a time investment and breakage from the comfort of traditional business practices. This entails establishing strong connections both upstream and downstream, comprehending each other's challenges, and driving performance enhancements. Although players in the coatings, adhesives, and paints industry are aware that this endeavor might take them out of their comfort zone, it also presents a chance to forge new pathways and seize opportunities.


The sustainability challenges are instigating a rapid and profound transformation across society, leading to disruptive expectations from stakeholders such as consumers, investors, and government bodies. In response, all actors involved in the coatings value chain are collectively responsible for driving this societal and economic transformation while addressing these pressing challenges.

Embracing open collaboration within an ecosystem is the key to fostering innovation and enables the coatings, adhesives, and paints industry to thrive as a solution provider.

Already, industry leaders are demonstrating their commitment to this change through remarkable initiatives and encouraging results. However, this journey has only just commenced, and they’ve extended a warm invitation to others to join in the adoption of an open ecosystem mindset. Together, the leading manufacturers and raw material suppliers can steer positive change toward a more sustainable future, making significant strides in overcoming the challenges ahead.

Omya meets the demand of lightweight fillers in the construction industry. To know more, visit our website.

Highlighted contributions by:

  • Nadine Nicolai, Global Business Development Director Construction at Omya
  • Richard Jenkins, Senior Vice President Coating Solutions, Arkema
  • Hélène Pernot, Head of Coating Sustainable Offer at Arkema
  • Anne Hallonet, Global Sustainability Manager at Bostik Durable Goods
  • Mats Hägerström, EMEA Sustainability Leader at PPG
  • Dorothee Arns, MD of the European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC)
  • Jenny Klevås, MD at Perstorp


  1. https://www.arkema.com/global/en/media/newslist/news/non-global/products/coatingresins/2023/20230308-2023-ecs-coatings-show/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9r4bFULSuc

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