Circular vision becoming a reality
Stand by for a prime example of why we set up our Paint the Future collaborative innovation ecosystem. It’s the story of how Dutch startup Alucha entered our inaugural global challenge in 2019 and, two years later, is engaged in a pilot project with AkzoNobel to supply a circular raw material – extracted from paper sludge – which is being used in one of our products.
Based in Arnhem, Alucha develops innovative waste recycling solutions. They entered our first ever Paint the Future startup challenge hoping to generate interest for their circular alternative to calcium carbonate, a mineral which is applied in paint and fillers. After being named as one of the five winners, a sourcing agreement was put in place and we started working together.
The potential was obvious. They were developing an extraction technology for recovering minerals and bio-oil from paper sludge which promised major sustainability benefits. Using Alucha’s circular solution can take mining of calcium carbonate out of the equation. With the feedstock being paper sludge, it also upcycles part of a waste stream, contributing to the circular economy. All important factors when considering our science-based target of reducing carbon emissions by 50% across the full value chain by 2030.
“Calcium carbonate traditionally comes out of mines and quarries in great quantities and is used in a variety of everyday products, many of which are eventually thrown away,” explains Alucha CEO, Gijs Jansen (pictured). “Either way, you lose the calcium carbonate, with any subsequent burning through waste incineration generating carbon emissions. Our technology to recover calcium carbonate means less waste and less reliance on mining.”
As part of a pilot project, we carried out extensive testing with Alucha to find a suitable product. Their circular mineral is now being used as an alternative for mined calcium carbonate and clay in one of our pre-deco exterior/masonry fillers. The launch product will become available as part of our Moltofill Aussen range in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and as part of our Polyfilla Exterior Plaster range in France, Italy and Belgium. The product meets our criteria of “reduced, reused and renewed material use”, qualifying as a sustainable solution and helping our customers to work with more circular products.
Our ongoing work with Alucha clearly illustrates that achieving our People. Planet. Paint. ambitions relies heavily on collaborative innovation, and it will help to guide our future partnerships.
Alucha is now planning to open its first circular calcium carbonate production facility. The aim is to start with a small scale operation (75 tons), and increase this to 13 kilotons per year in 2022.
An economic system which is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.