DSM Coating Resins

China: On a mission to reduce emissions

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Daring to lead the change

The Waterborne China Platform (WBCP) was formed by DSM and other coatings players in China nearly a decade ago. The goal: to help the Chinese government reduce VOC emissions in the booming industrial container industry. After years of painstaking work, the project is now bearing fruit – in the form of a 140-kiloton reduction in VOC emissions, following the migration of the entire industry from solventborne to waterborne coating technology.


The challenge

Today, around 97% of all the industrial transportation containers in the world are manufactured in China, which equates to roughly three million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually. That’s a lot of units that need coating, and until very recently this was achieved with solventborne technologies. The only problem: these coatings contained an estimated 50% VOCs. So, when the government released its ‘Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan’, in 2013, the container industry presented an ideal opportunity for the WBCP, which DSM has chaired for a decade, to put a plan into action. 

The solution

For the next three-to-four years, the WBCP organized a series of meetings, seminars and workshops aimed at educating everyone in the value chain on the benefits of moving to a waterborne coating technology – not least the body that represents the global container industry, the Container Owner Association (COA). During that time, there was much debate and discussion, as well as the occasional disagreement. But, eventually, the industry came around to using a technology that emits eight times fewer VOCs than traditional solventborne coatings. 

The result

Some 90% of all industrial containers are now based on waterborne coatings, from primers to topcoats. As a result, the industry has reduced its VOC emissions from 160,000 tons per year to just 15,000 tons. By taking a leadership position in solvent reduction, the Chinese container industry has proven that it really is possible to combine sustainability with commercial viability. The challenge now: extending this innovation into new industries and applications. Truly, shaping a sustainable coatings future, together.


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