Focus on marine: Hempel dives into sustainability collaboration

12 April 2023

Coatings manufacturer Hempel has recently joined the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety, to work with industry to support its emissions reduction pathway and to mitigate against the spread of invasive species. PPCJ spoke to Alexander Enström, Executive Vice President and Head of Marine at Hempel, to talk about its collaboration with the organisation and its main concerns in the marine coatings industry today.

Q. What percentage of Hempel’s output is marine coatings?

A. Our Marine segment makes up around 29% of Hempel’s total revenue, behind our largest customer segment, Decorative, which makes up 36%.

Q. What are the key challenges that you face as a marine coatings manufacturer at the moment, in terms of outside influences? 

A. Thankfully, some of the challenges we saw during COVID are having less of an impact now, leading to improved planning and predictability.

As a marine coatings manufacturer, we are part of a value chain that has an impact on both climate and marine biodiversity. We already have solutions that help our customers comply with regulations, such as our Hempaguard range which helps customers in the maritime industry comply with the International Maritime Organization’s CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) and EEXI (Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index) regulations, which aim to improve the efficiency of ships.

We want to continue innovating and providing our customers with solutions that can serve their needs even before new regulations come into play.

Q. And what are the main trends you are seeing in terms of  products and what your customers are asking for? 

A. A desire for more sustainable products that can improve performance is at the heart of our customers’ needs. Just a few years ago, our conversations with customers were more focused on the technical side of our products, but we are now having discussions about sustainability performance.

High-end coatings, such as Hempel’s Hempaguard range, reduce drag when a ship travels through water, and in turn, lower fuel consumption and emissions through improved hull efficiency. Our solutions, therefore, offer a very good business case in terms of reduced operation costs, total cost of ownership and return on investment over a vessel’s lifespan. As such, they are increasingly being incorporated into many shipping companies’ decarbonisation plans.

In general, we are seeing the technology for marine coatings increasingly moving towards helping customers on their sustainability journey, whether it be about decarbonisation, fuel efficiency or biocide-free solutions.

"We should be able to tackle the challenge of protecting marine environments alongside decarbonising the maritime industry."

Q. How important is sustainability to Hempel, with regards to marine coatings?

A. Embedding sustainability into everything we do is a long-term action and commitment for Hempel. Sustainability is considered in major business decisions, from acquisition evaluations to risk management, to our new solution process where more sustainable solutions are prioritised in the pipeline.

We have coatings already on the market that significantly reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions, such as our ground-breaking Hempaguard® X7 coating. Since its launch in 2013, this hull coating has been applied to over 3,000 vessels, helping our customers to save 8.6 million tonnes of fuel, corresponding to US$3.5bn saved and a reduction of 27 million tonnes CO2e.

As a company, we have pledged to help enable our customers to reduce up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 in total by 2025 across all our segments. Our sustainability framework, Futureproof, also seeks to reduce Hempel’s CO2e emissions by 90% in our own operations by 2026 and have zero waste to landfill by 2025; to reduce hazardous substances in our products; accelerate our efforts towards developing biocide-free products, and to achieve 50% recycled content in primary packaging by end of 2025.

Q. When did Hempel first become aware of the GIA for Marine Biosafety, and what is involved in the process of becoming a member?

A. The Global Industry Alliance (GIA) is established under IMO’s GloFouling Partnerships to bring together public and private sector and promote the uptake of biofouling management and marine biosafety initiatives. We became aware of the initiative late last year (October-November 2022) when the GloFouling reports were released.

Q. What are Hempel’s main aims in joining the Alliance? 

A. The activities of the Alliance align closely with our purpose, Shaping a Brighter Future with Sustainable Coating Solutions, as well as our sustainability ambitions. We joined GIA to share data and best practices and to help educate the market, but also to learn from other key stakeholders in the maritime industry. By promoting good practices around biofouling management and in-water hull cleaning, the Alliance can have a considerable impact on the business and environmental KPIs of the maritime industry.

We expect to become involved in several initiatives with GIA. From testing and evaluating the impact of different hull cleaning technologies, to providing input on the ongoing revision of the IMO biofouling guidelines.

Q. How important do you think collaboration is between different sectors of business and government, when it comes to addressing sustainability issues? Is Hempel a part of any other groups or panels such as the GIA?

A. At Hempel, we believe that strong collaboration between all stakeholders – governments, NGOs and the maritime industry – is needed to identify challenges and accelerate solutions to decarbonise the maritime industry and protect marine environments.

We participate in several national and international initiatives and projects working to improve energy efficiency of ship hulls and reduce emissions. For example, we are a member of the “Green Ship of the Future,” an independent non-profit initiative which explores pathways for energy efficiency and emissions-free maritime transport. The topic of the latest meeting, which we hosted at our headquarters in Denmark, was Biodiversity and Biofouling.

Q. Do you have any predictions for future challenges or trends that will become a focus in the marine coatings industry?

A. In the maritime industry as a whole, there has been a strong focus on decarbonisation, and rightly so. But we see the issue of marine biodiversity becoming more and more prominent.

The type and quality of hull coating on ships can have an impact on the unintentional spread of invasive aquatic species. Several port states now regulate ships’ entry into ports depending on the condition of the hull. There are other factors, such as cleaning schedules and processes, that play a part here, but it’s something we as an industry need to be aware of, because we should be able to tackle the challenge of protecting marine environments alongside decarbonising the maritime industry.



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