Akzonobel: Natural capital assessment to increase business value

AkzoNobel applied the Natural Capital Protocol to a downstream product in our value chain – a book. We wanted to know the extent to which our chemicals, when used to produce a book, resulted in natural capital impacts and how these compared with other inputs. We provide chlorate, which is used to produce the bleaching agent that whitens the paper that our customers then use to produce books.

AkzoNobel’s Planet Possible strategy of radical efficiency involves us working with customers and suppliers to generate more value from fewer resources. We were interested in using the outcomes of the natural capital assessment to identify and implement possible improvements and, ultimately, increase business value.

Natural Capital Protocol used
  • Yes
Impact drivers assessed
  • Fresh water ecosystem use e.g. wetlands, ponds, rivers
  • GHG emissions e.g. volume of CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, HFCs and PFCs etc.
  • Impact on biodiversity e.g. impact on species, ecosystems, habitats or genetic diversity
  • Non-GHG air pollutants e.g. PM2.5, PM10, VOCs, NO, NO2, SO2, CO, etc.
  • Other resource use e.g. volume of minerals extracted, volume of wild fish caught by species
  • Soil pollutants e.g. volume of waste matter discharges and retained in soil over a given period
  • Solid waste e.g. volume of waste by classification, materials constituents or disposal method
  • Terrestrial ecosystem use e.g. area of agriculture by type, area of forest plantation by type
  • Water pollutants e.g. volume discharged to receiving water body
  • Water use e.g. volume of ground- or surface water consumed
Organizational Focus
  • Product
Valuation Type
  • Quantitative
  • Monetary
  • Value to society
Geographical Scope
Dependencies assessed
  • Biodiversity
  • Energy e.g. solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biofuel, fossil fuel
  • Materials e.g. wood fiber, genetic resources, metals, minerals, plant and animal materials
  • Water e.g. fresh or sea water
Value Chain Boundary
  • Direct operations
  • Upstream
  • Downstream
  • Chemicals

Key findings

We found that the chemicals used for bleaching created only a small contribution to the total natural capital impact of book production and use. We also concluded that the monetized impact from a book was assessed at less than 2€ for a book with a sales price of around 20€.

We gained new insights into the book value chain in general, identified areas for future improvements and facilitated interactions with customers (pulp manufacturers) to explore ways to reduce impacts.

We decided to apply the same methodology to all our value chains in Pulp & Performance Chemicals. Through this comprehensive assessment, we could define specific actions to improve performance along the value chains, e.g. at production sites. One example is the reduction of our energy footprint by moving to more renewable electricity.

We learned that the assessment was data intensive, particularly in the measure and value stage of the Natural Capital Protocol framework, but clearly doable.