Strategy & Management

Expert Statement: Wijnand Bruinsma, AkzoNobel

CO2-Neutral Chemical Industry - The Challenge of an Industry Transformation

10.03.2021 - The European Chemical Industry has set out on an ambitious path to become carbon neutral.

Germany, as one of the major chemical manufacturing nations, has committed to achieve this goal by 2050. But companies need to translate this industry vision into their specific context.
System changes of the scale of CO2 neutrality for a whole industry sector require a new mindset. Major transformations command long lead times and require consistent and persistent follow-through. It is all but clear whether enough value is created to justify the huge investments and how new value generated is distributed among critical players and investors.

CHEManager asked executives and industry experts to share their opinions on this industry transformation, which is a multi-stakeholder challenge and comprises economical, technical, societal and political aspects. We proposed to discuss the following aspects:

  • What is your strategy / timeline to become carbon neutral and what are the key challenges on the path to achieve this goal?
  • What political / regulatory mea­sures are needed to encourage companies to invest in carbon neu­tral technologies?
  • What economical / societal benefits do you expect or hope for by decarbonizing your business?
  • How do you plan to involve external stakeholders critical for achieving CO2 neutrality?


Wijnand Bruinsma: Tackling climate change by reduc­ing carbon emissions is a global imperative that features prominently on the agenda of governments, corporates, NGOs and civil society organizations. Reducing emissions demands an integrated, collaborative approach ­across industries and value chains.
We strive to lead our industry by pioneering a world of possibilities by empowering people, reducing our impact on the planet and consistently innovating to deliver the most sustainable solutions for our customers. That’s why we call our approach to sustainable business — People. Planet. Paint.
In 2017 we announced our long-term goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and set an ambition to reduce carbon by 50% in 2019 (off a 2018 baseline with no offsetting). We are on track to achieve our 50% ambition and made good progress in 2020 having reduced carbon emissions by 19%.
Carbon reduction is achieved by reducing our energy consumption and operating on 100% renewable electricity by 2030 (2025: >50%). We currently have 34 locations and 12 countries on 100% renewable electricity and have set an ambition to reduce energy use by 30% in 2030 (2025: 15%).
Our sustainable product portfolio accounts for 40% of our sales and our ambition is to increase this percentage to >50% by 2030. Our sustainable solutions help reduce energy consumption and thus carbon emis­sions in the coating application phase and in the use phase of the coated end-product. We develop paints and coatings products with low embodied carbon through water-based low VOC technologies, and reduced and renewable materials usage. Our longer lasting solutions protect substrates longer thus reducing carbon emissions from repair and renewal activities.
AkzoNobel actively contributes to the UN SDGs and we support global programs and organizations like the EU Green Deal, Renovation Wave and CEO Alliance amongst others. We are also a proud member of the World Green Building Council.