Expert advice

How do AkzoNobel Yacht factories reduce emissions?

While first and foremost being a manufacturer of yacht paints, the AkzoNobel Yacht business recognizes that we must ensure that we undertake our activities in a socially and environmentally responsible way. As such, the consideration and reduction of the environmental impact of our activities forms a key element of our business strategy and has led to significant improvements within our manufacturing sites, focusing on elements such as reducing waste, recycling packaging and making more efficient use of our energy.

Every year we generate objectives for improvement and a management program to achieve them, with regular reviews for continual improvement.

Waste reduction and recycling

The introduction of an automatic pan cleaning system was one such improvement and has given huge benefits. These include a significant reduction of cleaning solvent usage.

Previously pans were cleaned manually, taking approximately 15 litres/4 gallons of solvent per pan. A Pan Wash system was introduced which automatically cleans pans using mechanical brushes and spray nozzles and contains a solvent reservoir that allows solvent re-use.

As a result of this system there has been a massive reduction in the use of fresh solvent as solvent used in the new system is sent for re-laundering (recycling into clean fresh usable solvent) and then returned to the plant for re-use.

The new system can clean approximately 30 pans before changing the solvent reservoir (180 litres/ 48 gallons), therefore solvent usage has reduced from 15 litres/4 gallons to approx. 6 litres/ 1½ gallons per pan.

Overall annual solvent usage reduction is estimated at approximately 13,500 litres/ 3600 gallons due to this, with the added benefit that the closed system reduces operator exposure to solvent vapors.

Reducing packaging waste

As an example, the UK factory site has significantly reduced the weight (and volume) of waste streams being sent to landfill by actively driving recycling programs for plastic, cardboard, metal and paper (including raw material bags).

Much of the waste is now being compacted and sold for recycling. The weight of material sent to landfill from the compactor is now down over 40% compared to in 2008 as a result of these measures and continues on a downward trend year-on-year.

As well as reducing and recycling landfill waste we have also eliminated secondary packaging on our products where possible, with recent changes to the packaging of our epoxy fillers being an example. The introduction of UN-approved filler pails has eliminated the need for outer cartons.

Allied to our own internal measures on packaging all our European packaging suppliers have been reviewed to ensure that as producers they consider their responsibilities under the packaging waste regulations.

We are currently undertaking a review of the packaging of our in-coming raw materials, particularly transit packaging associated with the raw materials we receive at our site. Packaging must be recoverable through at least one of the below routes

  • Recycling
  • Incineration with heat recovery
  • Composting or biodegradation
  • Re-use

Efficient use of energy

The dispersers used to make paint in the factory have been fitted with inverter drives, meaning that when the disperser runs at lower speeds the motor speed is now reduced, thus saving energy. It is estimated that the inverter drives reduced energy consumption by 50%.

These modifications will save enough electricity to power 212 average UK homes for 1 year.

A program of lighting replacement has been ongoing for a number of years, which includes replacement of old fittings with low energy lighting and use of zoned lighting with motion sensors and timers, to reduce energy usage.

A new biotreatment facility for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has achieved a dramatic reduction in energy usage at the Yacht factory in Union, USA - saving enough gas to heat the equivalent of 129 households every year.

The US facility previously burned all VOCs generated at the site in a thermal oxidizer which consumed natural gas and generated carbon dioxide. In 2006, this oxidizer was replaced with an environmentally friendly bacterial treatment solution.

The unit uses bacteria to digest the VOCs and convert them into carbon dioxide and water. VOCs that are not digested by the bacteria in the first pass through the unit are adsorbed onto activated carbon. During factory idle time this carbon is gently heated and the VOCs are desorbed and fed back to the biofiltration unit. This makes the process very economical and efficient, and achieves 96% reduction of VOC at the process exhaust.

In the first year of operation the gas usage on the site reduced by 13 billion BTUs. To put this into context, that’s enough gas to heat 129 households, the average USA household with four people consumes 101 million BTU/year. Also, each 100,000 BTU of natural gas used generates an estimated 6.1 kg of CO2. That means the biotreatment unit is saving almost 800 tonnes of CO2/year compared to the way the site used to operate.

Future planned improvements

An Energy Reduction Team was introduced to the headquarter site in 2007 on which International Paint Yacht participate. The team looks at high energy use processes and investigates improvement opportunities with recommendations for any capital requirements. Work is currently underway to investigate the feasibility of using solar panels to generate a portion of the electricity for our US site.

Paint your boat like a pro

Find the best products to keep your boat in great condition

Get all the support you need to paint with confidence

Benefit from our continuous innovation and scientific expertise