We are starting to see major shifts towards increased focus on sustainability, with examples like the likely upcoming EU ban on single use plastics, and the Chinese environmental tax on solvent based coatings. Your company and its competitive advantage will be defined by the ability shown in adapting to this. I will in this blog post touch upon a subject that can be important to assess for you going forward.
Some views on sustainability going forward
The driving factor behind the mega trends in sustainability is in many ways two-fold:
- Issues with plastic waste accumulating in our nature every year
- CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change
The latter has just now (at the end of 2018) been of great interest after the negotiations in Katowice, Poland. The latest UN report on climate change is describing that we are already seeing the results of a 1 ⁰C increased compared to the pre-industrial era. The questions is now if we are able to stop at 1,5 ⁰C or 2 ⁰C. The first point is also a topic of how to reduce CO2 emission, but also a very important topic in circular economy.
In this context, with the two discussion points above, there are clear opportunities for creating solid and environmentally friendly business. How could you as managers grasp this? And should you give increased attention to new raw materials available, like the cellulose fibrils/nanocellulose?
Creating pull in your market place will be based on your ability to meet new criteria
Technologies are shifting heavily in the direction of more environmentally friendly. Waterborne paints in traditional solvent-borne applications. New additives for cosmetics and increasing use of all natural ingredients. Bio-based plastics with equal performance but reduced time of degradation. Your key to succeeding in this landscape is to create products that are giving attention.
Tesla has understood this in my opinion, not being a car manufacturer but actually a technology provider (looking to its customer prospects and trying to identify their total consumption patterns); their battery packages for homes, roof tiles with incorporated solar cell panels, and electrical cars. They provide you with the opportunity to purchase a technology, not only a car. By doing this, they put pressure on the suppliers of technologies and products like battery producers, coating and adhesive producers, foam producers etc.
What will be important for Tesla going forward: meeting a close to zero target on emissions! This will be a major identity of their customer base and be an important signal to their key target group.
It is all about paradigm shifts, and there will always be early adopters, early pragmatics and late majority conservatives in this game. Maersk is setting their goal on net zero emissions by 2050. That is going to give a major job to every part of the Maersk value chain, ranging from container suppliers, their coating suppliers, the suppliers of packaging, foods, marine coatings, adhesives. I could continue this list. Will the technology be hydrogen-based or electric?
My important message is that Maersk is creating a signal effect with every ship they purchase and use from 2030. They are taking the position as an early adopter, and for all i know, carbon neutral ships may be a demand from the majority of customers in 2030-2050. Are you positioned to take on this challenge? Or is your competition better suited for this?
Here at Borregaard we are continuously looking at the wood resource as enablers for the emerging of new technologies. Our Exilva technology is created for meeting challenges producers have on improvements in the rheological behavior of the new water borne systems. If you are doing a re-design, its a wise decision to look at additives in addition to major building blocks. Why? because the technologies that will support your zero CO2 targets are emerging in commercial scale. Its the perfect time of starting to assess how they can help you achieve your goal. To make it easier for you to understand the concept of Exilva (which is a microfibrillated cellulose) and the concept of cellulose fibrils her:
- Do you know how MFC can improve batteries?
- Read up on why MFC is a solid alternative for producers looking towards new and more environmentally friendly additives here
- Why should I use cellulose fibrils in coatings?
- Important rheological properties of cellulose fibrils/nanocellulose
- How can I control the rheology of my concrete better?
- Looking for a rheology additive for a waterborne system?
How to focus, how to start?
Spend time on sustainability and its impact on your business not only from a regulative perspective, but as a technology opportunity. If we stay sharp focus on solving our global challenges on pollution and increase in temperature we can at the same time make business thrive. Look for important products with high recognizability in your target market and make sure to understand the new technologies that will make this happen for you. And do not miss out on the opportunity that the new natural additives will give you. If you are reading this, you have found a good place to start.
Mats Hjørnevik has eight years’ experience working on microfibrillated cellulose. As the marketing manager of the Exilva products from Borregaard, he works closely on introducing the concept of microfibrillated cellulose to the market. Mats has a M.Sc. in international marketing and experience from international locations.
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