AkzoNobel launches bio-renewable coating following anti-fouling accusations

Paint and coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel has launched a new biocide-free coating offering fuel and carbon savings for ships, just weeks after the company was accused of forming part of the "worst catastrophe to hit the marine environment".

After the whistle-blowing website WikiGreen – which focuses on the shipping and coatings industry – called out AkzoNobel for its use of tin as a “catalyst” in its anti-fouling coatings, the company has responded by launching the Intersleek 1000 range that offers fuel and carbon savings of up to 6%.

In order to improve ship efficiency, many of the anti-fouling coatings used to enhance speed and fuel conservation use biocides to rid ships of marine life. These materials have been described as the “toxic time-bomb in the seas”; with WikiGreen claiming that the amount of heavy metals and pesticides released into the oceans annually could fill St. Paul’s Cathedral nine times over.

Tin acted as one of the main anti-fouling components until it was banned in 2008, due to the harm it was causing to marine wildlife – including genetic damage. Despite the ban, WikiGreen has accused AkzoNobel of using tin as a catalyst, and despite not using it as a biocide, has criticised the company for clamouring for the “good old days of tin”.

In response to WikiGreen’s claims, an AkzoNobel spokesperson told edie: “AkzoNobel was the first major company to cease the use of tin-based biocides in its anti-fouling marine coatings in 2002 in advance of the entry into force of the IMO AFS Convention in 2008.

“All of AkzoNobel’s anti-fouling products use approved biocides in countries that have their own pesticide legislation. For those that do not, we use the benchmark of the EU Biocidal Products Regulation to set our own standard.”

Intersleek 1000

Just weeks after this criticism, AkzoNobel has become the first coatings company to introduce anti-fouling coatings based on Lanion technology. The patented technology uses bio-renewable materials to deliver “enhanced vessel performance” that reduces drag while lowering emissions and fuel consumption.

The Intersleek 1000 range is also eligible under the company’s award-winning carbon credits scheme. The initiative rewards ship owners who convert the coatings on ship hulls from biocidal coatings to the fuel and carbon-reducing ‘Intersleek’ coating.

AkzoNobel Marine Coating’s marketing director Robert Wong said: “Thanks to Intersleek 1000’s Lanion technology, we can offer an alternative sustainable coating option, which supports the widespread adoption of eco-efficiency technologies while meeting our commitment to developing innovative coatings in a sustainable way. This will boost the operational and environmental performance of the shipping industry, as well as improving efficiencies and profitability for ship owners and operators.” 

Currently, more than 4,500 vessels are using Intersleek coatings, which AkzoNobel claims has achieved total annual reductions of 17 million tonnes in carbon emissions – equivalent to 1.5% of the shipping industry’s global emissions – and worth more than $500,000.

The new Intersleek 1000 coating has already been tested on pure car carriers, container vessels and LNG ships. One vessel, coated with Intersleek 1000, has already generated 1,500 carbon credits during a five-year trial – representing the removal of 1,500 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

AkzoNobel is also an integral member of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, a coalition of organisations including Unilever and WWF, that aims to introduce a 2040 roadmap and set of shared commitments to help the shipping industry navigate the ‘significant challenges’ it faces on reducing emissions.

Matt Mace

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