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AkzoNobel Takes Sustainability Crown

Friday, September 13, 2013

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Despite its recent setbacks, the world’s largest paint and coatings maker is also one of the world’s most sustainably driven companies, according to a widely respected new global ranking.

The 2013 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices review has anointed Netherlands-based AkzoNobel NV as the Industry Group Leader in Dow Jones' newly renamed Materials category.

AkzoNobel also claimed the top spot in its category (formerly known as the Chemicals Supersector) in 2012, and it has ranked in the top three positions for eight years. In addition to its vast coatings portfolio, AkzoNobel produces more than 2,000 specialty chemicals.

AkzoNobel chemicals
Photos: AkzoNobel

AkzoNobel produces more than 2,000 specialty chemicals. Its Eka Chemicals business produces environmentally safe bleaching agents for the paper industry.

The manufacturer is one of 24 companies designated an Industry Group Leader in the new rankings, which were announced Thursday (Sept. 12).

What it Means

Launched in 1999, the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) are based on a Corporate Sustainability Assessment by Dow Jones and Zurich-based investment specialist RobecoSAM AG, which focuses on sustainability investing.

The corporate sustainability assessment analyzes "financially material economic, environmental and social practices," Dow Jones and RobecoSAM said in a statement.

The assessment takes in a wide range of criteria, including supply chain management, operational eco-efficiency, product stewardship, human capital development, innovation, climate strategy, stakeholder engagement, and occupational health and safety.

The assessment puts special emphasis on "industry-specific risks and opportunities," the sponsors said.

More than 3,000 publicly traded companies, including 800 in emerging markets, were invited to participate in the rankings this year.


In 2009, AkzoNobel set a goal to reduce its overall carbon footprint 25 percent by 2020. As a participant in the Carbon Disclosure Project, it publishes that data.

Companies that don't achieve a certain score are dropped from the list. This year, health-care giant Johnson & Johnson, banking multinational HSBC Holdings PLC, and the Vodafone Group were deleted.

'Long-Term View'

Sponsors said the rankings allow investors to integrate sustainability metrics into their portfolios and encourage companies to adopt and maintain sustainable best practices—even when times are hard.

"The market upheavals and high debt levels of the last few years should remind investors that a long-term view of the world and the markets is essential," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee.

'Commitment to Continuous Improvement'

For AkzoNobel, shaken in recent years by losses, restructuring, layoffs and divestments, the ranking came as welcome news.

The company, which has made sustainability part of its core mission, said the listing underscored its "commitment to continuous improvement."

The company developed a Carbon Policy in 2009 to reduce its carbon footprint 25 percent by 2020, and it voluntarily, publicly discloses environmental information as part of its participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project.

AkzoNobel is also aiming to hold its greenhouse gas emissions at its 2008 levels, and the company emphasizes social values through its Code of Conduct, overseen by a Compliance Committee.

"We are delighted and extremely proud to once again be placed first in such a prestigious and influential ranking," said AkzoNobel CEO Ton Büchner.

"Sustainability is fundamental to our strategy of connecting value creation to resource efficiency, and maintaining our DJSI leadership status underscores our belief that sustainability is business and business is sustainability."

AkzoNobel sustainability AkzoNobel QR

AkzoNobel's Sustainability Performance report is available here or by scanning the QR code above.

Büchner credited the company's workforce for the achievement.

"Together, we are working hard to better understand the changing needs of the global marketplace, which in turn drives the development of innovative technologies that meet our customers' needs," he said.

More Change Ahead

Despite the ranking, Büchner said the company needed to do more—and with less. The company said, without elaborating, that it was "determined to accelerate the pace of its commitment in order to take advantage of sustainable growth opportunities."

Büchner said, "We must also remain fully focused on further improving our performance in order to take the next major leap forward on our journey to creating more value from fewer resources."


Dow Jones Sustainability Indices has named 24 Industry Group Leaders for 2013-2014.



Tagged categories: AkzoNobel; Awards and honors; Business management; Green coatings; Sustainability

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