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When the first step in a global problem could lie with repair manuals

Dutch coatings giant AkzoNobel is the latest European company to place its sustainability credentials into the spotlight with a collaboration with its supply chains it hopes will reduce emissions in the vehicle repair industry.

The global company has signed up with other major players Allianz, Arval, Boekhorst Autoschade, Centro Zaragoza, Den Elzen Autoschade, Europcar Mobility Group, Grupo Velasco, Toyota and The Vella Group in an agreement aimed at reaching carbon reduction targets.

The companies have combined to create teams investigating specific solutions around three key topics: energy transition, process efficiency and circular solutions.

As a practical example that came out of the meeting in November, AkzoNobel cited one team will attempt to adapt repair manuals for bodyshops in an effort to increase repairability and circularity. Another will look into creating an academy to train automotive and repair companies to become more sustainable.

AkzoNobel’s Commercial Director for Vehicle Refinishes EMEA, Ignacio Román Navarro, says the united efforts of the partners to find emissions solutions was a ‘fantastic’ effort.

“We all have ambitious targets when it comes to addressing climate change, but it’s impossible for any of us to achieve them in isolation – collaboration is essential,“ Navarro says.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can take forward the challenges that came out of this program as we strive to collectively accelerate our sustainability journey.

“This event was a great starting point for us to work together and make a tangible impact on our goals. It’s something we simply have to do and, ideally, further along the road we’ll be able to transfer what we’re doing to other regions, so they can hold similar challenges that will make a real difference to achieving our ambitions.”

Eindhoven AI Systems Institute general manager Carlo van de Weijer says innovation was the secret to solving the problems posed by the industry and its contribution to climate change.

“When confronted with big societal problems, such as reducing our carbon footprint, we must do more to innovate ourselves if we’re going to help solve these issues. It means the whole vehicle repair value chain has to put more effort into innovation. We should also remember that tomorrow’s major breakthroughs nearly always start with what first seemed like yesterday’s crazy idea.”

AkzoNobel has set science-based sustainability targets to halve its carbon emissions across the full value chain by 2030, compared to 2018.

“Achieving that will rely heavily on collaborating with partners and challenging each other to find innovative ways to overcome the issues everyone is facing,”  Navarro says.

The group will reconvene in April 2024 where the teams will showcase potential solutions and our partners will officially sign up to be part of the implementation phase.

“That’s when the hard work begins – when we start doing what needs to be done to collectively reduce our carbon footprint, based on the exploration areas we’ve defined.”


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