AkzoNobel is one of the leading paints and coatings companies in the world and has a world-class portfolio of brands – including Dulux, International, Sikkens and Interpon. They’re active in more than 150 countries. AkzoNobel and Ecomatters have been working together since 2009. Ecomatters has supported AkzoNobel with various sustainability activities, including the development of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for AkzoNobel products. An EPD is a third-party verified document showing the environmental impact of a product or service. The AkzoNobel EPDs are in compliance with “EN15804+A1” or “EN15804+A2” – the EPD standards for the sustainability of construction products and services.
Over the last five years alone, Ecomatters has supported AkzoNobel with the development of 70+ EPDs for paints and coatings, covering products of different AkzoNobel brands, such as Dulux, International, and Sikkens. The EPDs cover a range of products, such as protective coatings, powder coatings, decorative paints, and recycled paints. AkzoNobel uses EPD primarily to create transparency around the environmental impact of their products. Additionally, the development of EPDs for their paints contributes to AkzoNobel’s 2030 sustainability ambitions to have 50% less carbon emissions in the value chain (baseline 2018) and to have >50% of revenue from sustainable solutions.
“We enjoy working with the service-minded and expert team of Ecomatters supporting us in creating the transparency on the environmental footprint of our products that our customers rely on “ – Job Coenen, Senior Program Manager Sustainability AkzoNobel
The first step in any EPD process is to determine the scope of the product system and the relevant inputs and outputs for each of the lifecycle stages (modules). Most commonly, a cradle-to-grave with module D scope is used to develop EPDs for paint products. This means that all the modules as specified in EN15804+A2 are declared in the EPD, and that module D (benefits and loads beyond the system boundary) is included as an information module.
Based on the project scope and the system boundary, Ecomatters develops a data collection questionnaire, and all the required data is provided by AkzoNobel. The data collection is often a reiterative process. Once all the data is complete, Ecomatters processes this data into LCA models and calculates the results for all impact categories required by the EPD standards. More in depth information about the EPD process you can find on our EPD process page.
Of the paint EPDs that have been developed, an interesting example are the EPDs for AkzoNobel’s recycled paint products. These paint products contain 35% of waste paints collected from household waste collection plants. Examples are Dulux Evolve Mat, available in the UK, and Sikkens Alpha Recycle Mat, available in the Netherlands and Belgium. AkzoNobel collaborates with companies specialized in waste management, and together they give post-consumer waste paints a second life. The collection of the paint from household waste treatment centers is arranged and necessary steps are taken to make sure that the waste paint is properly sorted, tested, and mixed. After the quality assurance, the collected waste paint is mixed together and a ‘virgin’ paint formulation is added until the ratio of 35% recycled paint is obtained.
To conduct an LCA study, the analyst has to decide on a specific allocation method, which determines how the impacts from reusing or recycling materials are allocated between the first life cycle (i.e. primary paint) and the secondary life cycle (i.e. recycled paint). For AkzoNobel’s recycled paint EPDs, a so-called cut-off allocation approach is applied. With this approach, the environmental burden of the paint collected at the household waste collection centre is allocated to the first life cycle (primary paint). The producer of the original paint is responsible for the environmental burden of the whole bulk of paint it sells, including the paint sent to waste. As a consequence, the collected waste paints may enter the secondary system burden-free, as a secondary material. In turn, all materials and utilities that are needed for recycling the paint waste do need to be included in the system boundaries of the secondary life cycle (paint with recycled content).
An important step of all LCA and EPD studies is the interpretation of the results. The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) shows which life cycle stages contribute the most to the different EN15804 impact categories. The sourcing of raw materials (module A1 in the EPDs) is usually the main contributor to the most commonly reported impact categories in EPDs for paint products. Even if the paints have a recycled content of 35%, the remaining 65% of the composition carries upstream environmental burdens that cause the raw material sourcing to be the main contributor to the overall environmental performance.
To further assess the effects of adding recycled content to the virgin formulations, a comparison study was performed. As EPDs with the same system boundaries were created for both the virgin paint formulation and the product with the recycled content, it was possible to gain insight into the influence of recycled content on environmental performance. This comparison was done for multiple recycled paints.
As the main contributor to the environmental performance of paint is the sourcing of raw materials, the effect of including recycled materials is mainly visible in module A1. The input of recycled raw materials leads to a reduction of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) in module A1 with an average of 30% in the studied paints. Over the full scope of the EPDs, this resulted in a decrease of 13% to 21% in the GWP of the concerned paint products.
Ecomatters has over 10+ years of experience with LCA studies and has delivered hundreds of EPDs to various clients in different industries. We navigate our clients through the environmental performance declarations, estimation of benefits of recycled materials use, and end-of-waste status definition. Don’t hesitate to contact us for our dedicated support.
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