03 January 2022
Contributing to the decarbonisation of the steel and aluminium industries
At Beckers, we are stepping up our work with steel and aluminium coil coating customers to help them to decarbonise their operations in a new holistic approach that includes Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) capabilities, industry collaboration, and breakthrough technologies that reduce the carbon emissions of coatings.
The need to decarbonise the steel and aluminium industries
Steel and aluminium are essential engineering and construction materials in modern society, but the industries are currently among the largest emitters of carbon dioxide. Many challenges need to be overcome throughout the entire value chain to decarbonise the steel and aluminium industries.
“Even in the carbon-intensive metals industries, decarbonising coatings and their application can have a significant positive impact on our customers’ decarbonisation work, and we are seeing increasing demand from them to quantify the impacts of our coatings and find lower-carbon solutions,” says James Maxted, Global Product Sustainability Director. “We have been working on bio-based solutions with lower carbon emissions for over 10 years now, but we still have work to do to fully replace all fossil-based materials.”
Enhanced LCA capabilities
To decarbonise, we are working to understand where we are today by quantifying the environmental impact of our products. We are currently upgrading our LCA capabilities to capture the impact of our products more accurately and share these results more efficiently with our customers to use in their own calculations.
“Taking a whole life approach that includes the entire value chain, including end-of-life aspects, is essential,” explains Maxted. “This holistic approach will also enable us to avoid the problem of unknowingly shifting the carbon burden from one part of the life cycle to another.”
Collaborating to decarbonise our coating solutions
“Collaboration is essential for developing and trialling the necessary solutions that enable the decarbonisation of the steel and aluminium coating industries,” says Eric Fouissac, Beckers President, Southern Europe & Africa. “Beckers has an important role in helping customers to step by step decrease their carbon impact by improving their coatings and coating lines – all without compromising customer quality.”
At Beckers, we are working on routes to decarbonise by reducing the use of petroleum-based components and replacing these with renewable, lower carbon alternatives such as water-based, bio-based or recycled materials. We are also working on alternative lower carbon application processes together with our customers, for example with low-emission 100 percent solid coatings applied via more efficient radiation ultraviolet or electron beam curing.
“Besides being more energy efficient, radiation curing technology also uses less material as around half of the coating is combusted in conventional production methods,” says Maxted. “This means less material loss and consequently a lower carbon footprint”
Our new Beckers Sustainability Index (BSI) enables us to verify the environmental impact of our products.
“The BSI provides us with a holistic assessment of each product’s sustainability performance by including key indicators such as LCA impact and carbon footprint data,” says Maxted. “The BSI is also driving our product development processes to make our existing and new products more sustainable.”
The long-term industry vision for a zero-carbon coil coating line
In 2020, Beckers helped initiate a zero-carbon coil coating line project together with the European Coil Coating Association (ECCA) and other partners that cover the entire industry value chain. Beckers is represented on the ECCA’s Board of Directors and steering committee.
The project is designed to study the technology, best practices and emerging technologies that can reduce the carbon impact of coil coating lines, and involves technical research, industry engagement and the assessment of 13 coating lines across Europe.
“For Beckers, it’s not only important that we become the world’s most sustainable coatings company, but that we also help our customers to reduce their emissions – towards net-zero emissions in the long term,” explains Fouissac. “We are doing this through collaborations like with the ECCA and by gradually improving and optimising our coating formulations to help our customers to adapt and improve their coating lines with our expertise and resources.”