Turning the tide on plastic

First in a series of features highlighting the pride that our people take in their work

“Next time I walk on a beach, I will be really proud that it has less ocean waste, because our Intersleek products will have played a key role in making that happen.”

Oscar Wezenbeek is a man on a mission. As Director of AkzoNobel’s Marine, Protective and Yacht Coatings business, he’s passionate about building on the company’s long association with the sea.

So alarming statistics about eight million tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every year are going to make him sit up and take notice. Then he’ll start doing something about it. Which is exactly what’s happened.

The company has partnered with The Ocean Cleanup, an organization based in the Netherlands which is attempting to clean the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch. AkzoNobel is providing marine coatings from its award-winning Intersleek product range, which will be used on all The Ocean Cleanup’s floating devices and equipment for the next five years.

“Experts estimate it would take 79,000 years to clean our oceans using traditional methods,” says Wezenbeek. “We’re hoping that our partnership with The Ocean Cleanup will help to speed things up. We have mutual concerns regarding the health of the world’s oceans, so it’s only natural that we have offered our solutions for tackling one of the biggest challenges on Earth.” The most high profile use of the company’s coatings will be on the specially designed floating clean-up system which will collect the ocean waste. The coatings play a critical role by protecting the structure from fouling organisms.

Which brings us to another one of Wezenbeek’s favorite topics – sustainability. “At AkzoNobel, sustainability is at the heart of every business decision we make,” he continues. “It’s the key for the survival of every business and industry. As a world leader in marine coatings, we believe we can make a meaningful contribution to protecting our oceans and turning the tide on plastic.” 

AkzoNobel’s biocide-free Intersleek products are already being used to help make the shipping industry more sustainable by reducing fuel consumption, cutting emissions and lowering the costs of operation. It's estimated that the Intersleek range has helped to save $3 billion of fuel and 32 million tons of CO2 since being introduced 22 years ago.

For someone as driven as Wezenbeek, the partnership with The Ocean Cleanup is a clear opportunity to take further decisive action and pave the way for many long and happy walks along clean, plastic-free beaches.