Under our Product Stewardship initiative a computer driven Global Raw Material Evaluation Process (GRMEP) has been introduced so that our laboratory chemists can study the environmental and safety properties of all substances they are considering for use in a new product. The process takes the chemist through a series of checks for each raw material to ensure that the final product contains substances which can be used safely with minimum impact on the environment. An environmental risk assessment module is a key component of the GRMEP.
Significant work has been carried out to determine the optimum levels of active ingredients required in our antifouling paints to achieve the industry-leading performance that our customers expect. This work ensures that formulations are properly engineered rather than over engineered and that the environmental impact is minimised. At the same time, Yacht is actively funding work developing efficient biocide delivery systems to ensure that the “right” amount of biocide is released into the environment when it is needed. Together, these two activities will ensure that we continue to offer our customers the most effective antifoulings with the least environmental impact.
We are investing heavily in research into more environmentally benign solutions for keeping the bottoms of boats clean – both within our own research and development departments and with third parties such as universities and various companies. For example, we are a key partner involved in the AMBIO project ('Advanced Nanostructured Surfaces for the Control of Biofouling) under the European Commission Sixth Framework Programme. This project is devoted to the development of antifouling coatings that function through their nanoscale physico-chemical properties, without the release of biocides.
We are also involved in screening programmes to identify more effective, more biodegradable alternatives to current biocides.
We have introduced products with low levels of biocides or biocide-free for areas with lower fouling challenges. We have introduced a number of lower VOC (volatile organic compound) products into our product ranges. Water based as well as high solids antifoulings, primers and topcoats make up this lower VOC offer. A large proportion of the R&D product development projects we have underway are aimed at significantly increasing the number of such low VOC products we offer to our customers.