As the urgent battle continues with the coronavirus pandemic, it is important not to lose sight of the global climate emergency. A shared vision of sustainability and collaboration brought together Kraton Corporation, a leading global producer of pine chemicals, and WJ Group, the leading UK road marking business, to make road marking products with a significantly lower footprint. The goal is to support the ambitious target of the United Kingdom and the European Union to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Paul Aldridge, WJ Group Sustainability Director, said: “The window of opportunity for mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change is closing. The UN climate change conference (COP26) may be postponed, but the climate emergency is not. Extreme weather events and rising sea levels are occurring globally. Businesses have a pivotal role to play in helping the world respond. Now is the opportunity to creatively innovate and develop solutions to this complex problem.”
Perhaps the coronavirus gave a glimpse of what the planet’s health could be like with a reduction in pollution and reinforces the reality of the ongoing Global Climate Emergency. At a significant social and economic cost, the global lockdown facilitated a predicted drop of more than 5.5 per cent in carbon dioxide emissions during 2020. However, more than a 7.6 per cent annual reduction is needed to tackle the climate emergency. Experts believe that level of carbon reduction is the only way to ensure a safe, prosperous and sustainable future for all on a healthy planet.
It is encouraging that sustainability topics like climate change are becoming more of a key business driver. Increasing consumer demand and regulations have contributed to the growth of sustainable initiatives globally. As companies strive to meet expectations and differentiate in a competitive marketplace, they must collaborate throughout the value chain to deliver on those needs. Specifically, within the asphalt and road markings materials sectors, biobased materials are already preferred due to performance advantages and as a low carbon option. They are expected to be game-changer in other markets in the coming years as specifiers and formulators prioritise sustainability as a key criterion in raw material selection.
The ACB-WJ Product Services bi-annual Innovation days, hosted by ACB, in Belgium is an example of value chain interaction. This event provides the opportunity to exchange ideas on industry hot topics, including sustainability
Morgane Burgorgue, Marketing Manager at Kraton Corporation, and Paul Aldridge, Group Sustainability Director from WJ, addressed a broad European audience at the Zolder Racetrack conference facility with purpose and examples of tangible actions. This was the opportunity for WJ and Kraton to share their collaboration regarding a life cycle assessment (LCA).
Morgane said: “Conducting LCA requires collaboration with suppliers and supply chain partners. In turn, we support our customers with transparent data on our products’ environmental footprint. In 2018, Kraton set a new target to complete 12 LCA by the end of 2020. Besides customer collaboration, LCA enables us to understand hotspots of potential environmental footprint improvements through raw material selection, during transportation or the production process.
Working closely with Kraton, WJ set a goal to become carbon dioxide neutral by 2030 in their production of thermoplastic road marking products. Calculating the embedded carbon for every ingredient used within the formulated products was a huge challenge. Assessing the impact of each element meant considerable communication with the supply chain and research using secondary sources to collect the required formation.
The development of WJ’s Carbon Footprint Model is undoubtedly one of the most significant steps taken by a road marking manufacturer to enable accurate measurement of embodied carbon within products, inclusive of energy used in production. Based on the carbon model established, which included LCA data supplied by Kraton for rosin ester, WJ calculated that the footprint of formulated thermoplastic road marking products could be reduced by a remarkable 81 per cent compared to a formulation containing hydrocarbon resin.
The Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment Model provides quick, efficient and reliable at-scale carbon footprinting for all current and future products, independently verified by Lucideon to PAS 2050:2011 and ISO14067 (2018).
European Regulations Make Sustainability a Priority
In the past couple of years, Europe has aggressively launched several initiatives focusing on sustainability. In late 2019, the European Union unveiled The Green Deal as part of its new growth strategy to become the first climate-neutral continent. The EU strives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, and by 100 per cent by 2050. These ambitious goals make sustainability a key part of doing business in the region. This means collaboration amongst industry players are more urgent than ever before. To achieve these goals, companies worldwide must use resource efficiency and take advantage of renewable resources that can help reduce carbon footprint. In the UK, the 2008 Climate Change Act made it the first country to adopt a law on climate change. The Act was further amended in 2019 to embed Net-Zero by 2050 into UK law.
Europe has also emphasised the importance of sustainable products by promoting the development of biobased products. The biobased certification scheme is based on the European standard EN 16785-1, which allows for independent assessment of claims on a product’s biobased content. To date, Kraton has certified more than 115 of its biobased products according to this European Standard.
The markets are changing rapidly, and manufacturers must have a comprehensive understanding of how regulations impact market conditions today and in the future. The emergence of sustainability means that companies and individuals need no longer to operate alone. Industry collaboration will be key to success for all stakeholders in the value chain. Formulators will need to work with their raw material suppliers to understand the sustainable options available to them.
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