The Specialty Chemicals Leadership team pictured (in a safe and controlled environment) in the chemistry lab of the St. Nicolaas Lyceum school in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Our dedication to customers is fundamental to our growth ambitions. It also inspires our commitment to delivering essential ingredients and helped drive our performance and innovation throughout 2016.
Our products are essential ingredients for many aspects of daily life and we thrive on the opportunity to grow with our customers by supplying sustainable solutions that contribute to our mutual success. It’s an approach that delivered a series of innovative new products in 2016, all focused on helping to make people’s lives more liveable and inspiring.
One of the highlights was our Expancel microspheres being officially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a constituent in wine corks. The function within the cork is simple, but crucial – it’s the secret ingredient that helps keep wine fresh and tasting as good as possible. It’s also good to see positive trends developing for Expancel in various other applications.
Another innovation was Dissolvine M-40. A chelating agent with a readily biodegradable active ingredient (known as MGDA), it will enable detergent makers to meet stringent rules requiring the removal of phosphate builders in their formulations – without affecting performance. Helping customers to develop more sustainable products was also key to the launch of Berol DR-B1. An additive for cleaning products, it’s suitable for a wide range of outdoor applications where very low environmental impact is a priority (such as car washes). An additional benefit is that it meets stringent US environmental standards.
It was also pleasing to see our Chelates business make an important contribution to our Human Cities project in Quito, Ecuador, as part of the UN Habitat III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. A large vertical urban garden was created to help transform a bleak expanse of concrete into a colorful and more attractive space for local residents. The garden has no soil and is based on a hydroponic system, which uses our micronutrients to provide essential minerals for the plants.
Innovations such as these help to fuel growth and we made good progress, notably in China. Polymer Chemistry announced two investments. A new organic peroxides plant being constructed in Tianjin is due to be operational in late 2018. It will replace our existing plant and increase our capacity. Our other investment was made in Ningbo, where we opened the world’s largest unit for making organic peroxides used in the production of crosslinked rubber. Surface Chemistry also opened a new alkoxylation facility in Ningbo. It will provide surfactants for the agrochemical, cleaning, viscose and animal feed industries. In addition, Industrial Chemicals announced a partnership with Atul to construct a new MCA plant in India. This investment is in line with our ambition to grow our geographical footprint.
Safety remains on top of our agenda and it was encouraging that we achieved further improvements in the three key areas of people safety, process safety and product safety as we moved further towards our aim of zero injuries.
Two contrasting developments occurred in the Netherlands. Our Salt business discovered issues at its brine field in Hengelo. We are working closely with the authorities and the community and corrective actions are being taken.
Meanwhile, we progressed with preparations for the Deventer Open Innovation Center. Deventer is home to Specialty Chemicals’ largest RD&I facility and we intend to develop it into one of the country’s largest open innovation centers.
Progress was also made in the Netherlands with regard to reducing our carbon footprint. We inaugurated a steam pipeline – based on renewable materials from energy provider Eneco – at our Delfzijl site for the manufacturing of vacuum salt. In addition, we engaged in a long-term commitment to source power from the Krammer wind park being constructed in the Dutch province of Zeeland.
All our efforts enabled us to further improve results, driven by continued emphasis on operational excellence and volume growth. Polymer Chemistry benefited from increased demand in the Americas and Asia and we made good progress in realigning the business’ global manufacturing footprint. In Industrial Chemicals, chlor-alkali benefited from the good productivity rates of our factories, including the new plant in Frankfurt, Germany. Having completed restructuring and portfolio measures, Pulp and Performance Chemicals is focused on growing its bleaching and performance chemicals activities, while we further strengthened value chains in Surface Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry and Ethylene and Sulfur Derivatives. Having made steady progress in a low-to-no-growth environment, we are focused on continuous improvement and accelerating our growth momentum as we continue to create everyday essentials for our customers.
Finally, we were pleased to welcome Thierry Vanlancker to AkzoNobel. He succeeded Werner Fuhrmann on February 1, 2017, as Executive Committee member for Specialty Chemicals, following Werner’s decision to retire after 37 years with the company. More details about Mr. Vanlancker’s career and experience can be found on our corporate website.
“All our efforts enabled us to further improve our results”
Member of the Executive Committee responsible for Specialty Chemicals
Everything we do for and with society is channeled through our Human Cities initiative. This incorporates AkzoNobel’s Community Program, which encourages and gives financial support for employees to get involved, hands-on, in their local communities; and our “Let’s Colour” program, which uses the power of color to improve people’s lives.
The carbon footprint of a product is the total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused during a defined period, of the product lifecycle. It is expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents CO2(e) emitted.