Management Approach: Products with Impact
We take responsibility for sustainability along our product value chain – from raw materials to customers and end users.
GRI 2–24, 3–3, 306–1, 306–2
Making our products more sustainable is part of this effort. We want to develop products that both meet our customers’ needs and fulfill our shared vision of sustainability. We are working hard to fulfill this goal, but we still need to improve in a number of areas: choice of raw materials, our suppliers’ environmental and social impact, product performance for applicators and end users, and sustainable solutions for scrapped painted materials. By collaborating with partners along the value chain we strive for breakthrough innovations and materially and functionally sustainable coatings.
How our products impact the environment, people, and the economy
As a company that makes coatings from chemicals and scarce minerals, we are aware of the potential for negative impacts on the environment or on people’s health. This is why reducing the negative impact by using renewable raw materials and recycled materials and also making a positive contribution to sustainability is of utmost importance to us.
We work to understand and mitigate the negative impacts of our operations through positive measures, such as monitoring the use of endangered resources, reducing energy consumption for cooling or heating, or lowering the amount of VOC in paints to improve air quality.
Our innovations are helping to reduce the negative impact of our products on the environment or humans. For example, our self-cleaning coatings reduce people’s exposure to chemicals required to clean surfaces. Our coatings can help further electric motor efficiency or extend the lifetime of products. Our highest durability system, RUV5, can significantly lengthen the lifetime of a building envelope with minimum maintenance. In one of our latest developments, an easy-to-clean topcoat is applied using a less resource-intensive process compared to the previous three-coat system that is usually standard when it comes to self-cleaning technology. Finally, collaboration and co-creation with clients and partners lead to more transparent, reliable and sustainable value chains.
Additionally the total costs for a coating solution and, in the end the object it is applied to, decrease when taking the holistic approach of life-cycle assessments. Considering the additional costs that are spread throughout a product’s whole life cycle is called total cost of ownership (TCO). By reducing the costs of maintenance and operation, a sustainable coating is valuable in a way that goes beyond the obvious.
How we manage Products with Impact
Restructuring our R&D
Our new CTO, Gavin Bown, joined in April 2021 and began re-structuring our R&D, placing an extra focus on sustainability. As part of this restructuring, we have now created a new role of a Global Product Sustainability Director for Beckers Group, who, together with their team, will advance our product sustainability.
Beckers Sustainability Index
We made great progress with the Beckers Sustainability Index (BSI), giving us much better visibility into the issues that we need to address to improve product sustainability into the future. Our BSI is a transparent product classification tool that maps and measures the sustainability of a system in full. It classifies the sustainable impact of coating systems along both material and functional dimensions, and can be used by the industry and by Beckers for R&D and commercial purposes. It is already widely in use for Coil Coatings.
We began with the classification of all our Coil Coatings in 2020. So far, we have mapped more than 90 percent of our sold volume in terms of its material sustainability and made good progress in understanding the functional sustainability of our products by using BSI. Coatings that are found to fulfill the highest standards in both categories – functional and material sustainability – are described as “net-sustainable”. In other words, they are products that are placed in the highest class of the BSI coating system because they significantly improve the sustainability of the coated product and receive a high score in the material sustainability category.
See also Beckers Sustainability Index
Life Cycle Analysis
We have started to develop our own bespoke Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) tool. It enables us to determine the carbon footprint of our products in order to define the carbon in our products and become reflective on the use of more sustainable materials and improvements to our own manufacturing processes.See also Sustainable aluminum and steel
Wherever possible, we use materials that are non-toxic to humans and the environment. We aim to sell coatings that have minimal VOCs and CO2e emissions.
We are also looking at how new types of paint formulations can reduce the carbon footprint of the coil coating process itself (e.g., UV and electron beam curing). This reflects Beckers' ambition to take a more “end-to-end” approach, looking across the full value chain in seeking more sustainable solutions.
Embracing the circular economy
We promote the use of renewable raw materials and avoid using any minerals that are scarce or endangered. Moreover, we develop and sell coatings that provide proven functional sustainability benefits for customers and society whilst in service. Circular economy approaches are a major focus of our longer-term R&D and Innovation activities. For example, we are looking at using bio-sourced raw materials and recycled plastic content in Beckers' product formulations. We have a number of active projects under evaluation in these areas with external collaboration partners and technology providers.
Collaboration is key
We know we cannot solve all of these challenges alone. We are working with key partners upstream and downstream to build strong and effective collaboration. Following our net sustainable R&D strategy, our upstream collaboration focuses on getting access to more sustainable raw materials. One example of our downstream collaboration is the introduction of CPV, which is the outcome of collaboration between Beckers Sweden, Beckers’ central Long-Term R&D unit, customers and most major electrical steel companies.See also Boosting e-motor efficiency
See also R&D strategy
In 2021, we provided training for R&D employees on the BSI and net-sustainable products and ensured that they are thoroughly informed about Beckers’ goals. We also began to implement attractive incentives such as integrating sustainability targets into variable compensation.
We know that co-creation with customers and suppliers is key for the development of more sustainable products. We are in continuous exchange with our customers to assess the effectiveness of new, more sustainable products and product features. For example, we are working with our customers’ R&D teams to identify ways in which, together, we will reduce the carbon footprint of coil coated steel. Part of the solution lies in reducing the carbon footprint of our customers’ own coil coating process, and part of it lies in reducing the carbon footprint of the products we sell to them. With our suppliers, we work on finding new ways to make our coatings materially more sustainable.
We already have a number of paints and technologies, such as water-based, radiation curing, bio-based, that either support our customers in reducing CO2e emission on their lines or reduce the embedded CO2 in their products.