Frequently asked questions
The answer often depends on whom you ask. For example, some companies define ‘bio-based’ as being a traditional non-bio product that’s manufactured using bio-friendly processes (for example non-fossil based energy sources). We do this at DSM but the significant difference with Decovery® is that the resin itself is made from bio-based materials, ie plants. This is why, to avoid confusion, we call it plant-based paint.
The word ‘bio’ derives from Greek, and loosely translated means ‘of life and living things’. So, while plants fall into this category - and are therefore bio-based - so do many other elements of life on our planet.
Plant-based content like that found in Decovery® can be measured in the product and verified at the point-of-use. Biomass-balance - also known as bio-sourced - is related to the underlying production process, and their respective certifications. It cannot be verified at a specific product level.
We measure the amount of plant-based content inside Decovery® based on 14C. Despite making up just one trillionth of all carbon in existence,14C is essential for assessing the lifetime of carbon-based materials – because it’s only found in living plants (like those inside Decovery®). By measuring the miniscule amounts of 14C inside our product, we can thus calculate the precise amount of plant-based content.
Seeds, tree bark, castor beans and other agricultural waste are the prime ingredients of Decovery®, as well as some corn.
Today, around 75% of these ingredients don’t compete with the food chain – and even for those that do, the impact is negligible due to the comparatively low volumes. Tomorrow, as we scale up production, we intend to move to a second-generation feedstock – using corn hubs instead of the corn itself - thus not interfering with the food chain at all. However, we will not only looking at how we get more from what we already use; we’ll also investigate completely new natural materials that could be chemically engineered to produce the natural oils we need to make a high-performing paint resin.
Our initial product is made from corn that is made in existing farming lands without destruction of sustainable forestry.
Non-renewable fossil feedstocks, like crude oil are not only becoming scarcer but they also contribute to climate change. By using plant-based materials that perform as well as (if not better than) fossil-based equivalents we unlock environmental benefits that reduce our overall ecological footprint. In markets like paint, for example, we see customers increasingly making this a key part of their decision criteria.
The environmental impact is measured through a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) - also known as life-cycle analysis, eco-balance, or cradle-to-grave analysis.
The LCA is a technique for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life, from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and ending with disposal or recycling. Increasingly we use this process to guide us in the way we design products. For example it helps us determine how much energy goes into and out of a product over its life and the subsequent effect on environment – which ultimately helps us make better-informed decisions. The bigger the market for plant-based paint becomes, and the larger the scale of our production, the greater the benefits will be.
The short answer is yes. It delivers an excellent finish with outstanding durability and no yellowing effect (as associated with traditional Alkyd-based) coatings. It’s easy to apply and use, contains zero-to-low VOCs, and delivers a carbon footprint reduction of up to 34% based on replacing crude oil with plants.
No, Decovery® is used in a similar way to traditional waterborne resins.
Right now Decovery® is being used in the Building & Construction and Furniture markets but it has potential to be used in several others (in packaging, for example).
In Building & Construction it can be used for walls & ceiling, façade & exterior walls; doors & panels and window frames and flooring. It can also be used for regular and kids’ furniture and kitchen cabinets.
Decovery® is currently produced by DSM in Waalwijk (Nl), although we have the ability to produce it in multiple locations and regions if and when the market requires.
An exact comparison is difficult to make, however transportation is included in our Life Cycle Assessment where Decovery® shows a lower footprint compared to solvent-borne and traditional acrylic polymers.
It’s still relatively early days for Decovery®. Eventually we will make the product with locally sourced plant residues when the economies of scale make it financially viable.