More than 14 years ago our company, AkzoNobel set out to transform itself into a trusted generator of sustainable long-term value and positive social impact. We were not alone. Many others in our peer group had the same ambition. But here’s the difference. When you walk into our factories and offices, you can see that sustainable business is our way of life. You feel that sustainability is business and business is sustainability.
AkzoNobel has been recognized as a leader in sustainability for more than a decade, because we put our principles into practice. And we have not only transformed our business model, we have also started to transform our industry – both up and down the supply chain. Our Planet Possible strategy and the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a perfect match – guiding the way to short-term, mid-term and longer term value creation.
Today, we are charting a scientific path towards zero carbon emissions (across our value chain), towards radical resource efficiency in our use of materials and zero harm from our products, while delivering a positive social impact from our products and programs.
Our clear ambition is to be carbon neutral and use 100% renewable energy by 2050. This means we will drive change in our total supply chain, sourcing 100% renewable energy for our operations. We are not only eliminating carbon emissions in our own operations, but will also help our entire value chain to reduce carbon foot print and become net positive with product solutions that avoid emissions.
Is it a dream? Is our commitment to sustainable development and long term-value at the expense of short-term value? That’s not what the evidence suggests. Renewable energy already accounts for 40% of the energy we use. Overall, our investments and partnerships are already delivering energy at similar prices to conventional fossil supplies. The tipping point is now. The cost equation is swinging further in favor of renewables, and AkzoNobel is well placed to take advantage of the changing energy marketplace.
That requires leadership. So we’re taking the lead by investing in new technologies and energy generation to make it happen – and in partnerships with government and industry.
Radical resource efficiency and keeping materials in the loop is a big business opportunity. It’s also a smart approach to take when the world’s resources are scarce. Since 2009, we have driven the improvement of right-first-time production and the recovery of raw materials in our own operations. This has resulted in a 27% improvement of our operational eco-effectiveness. More uniquely, we extended this approach to our supply chain.
In 2016, we initiated a range of partnerships which have resulted in a significant increase of biomass use, bio-steam production and the use of recovered materials. This has improved our performance in terms of reducing carbon emissions with our suppliers, with our customers and in our own operations.
More than half our products provide general sustainability benefits, such as improved energy and material efficiency. We are also driving up the percentage of our revenue which is eco-premium – innovative products ahead of the mainstream product offerings – giving us a competitive advantage in terms of economic, environmental and human value creation. In 2016, our revenue from eco-premium products and services with downstream benefits totaled €2.9 billion.
In the end it’s all about people. We aim to achieve sustainable business objectives in order to serve society. That includes attracting and retaining talented employees who now see sustainability as an intrinsic part of our brand value. Our employees demonstrate the authenticity of our commitment to society by giving their own time to contribute to the development of their communities, teaching in schools and universities, helping disadvantaged groups and bringing color and inspiration to people’s lives.
We want every employee to be a proud ambassador of AkzoNobel’s whole-hearted commitment to doing more with less.