Sustainability in China


Policy and industry are now working hand-in hand for sustainable development in China as the country responds to globally-driven trends and aims to enhance competitiveness. Underlined by the innovation and environmental requirements of the 13th Five Year Plan and ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial policy, the emphasis is on products for safe and sustainable cities, mobility, climate and energy challenges, and achieving sustainable industrialization. These sustainability themes were central elements in the Sustainability Dialog Summit hosted by Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, in Shanghai in November.

The global event was a highlight in the company’s 2016 Asia Pacific calendar. Customers, manufacturers, brand owners, regulators, industrial experts and academics joined sustainability professionals to share experiences, ambitions and future goals, and highlight relevant trends in Greater China.



For China’s paints and coatings industry, the close connection between consumers and coatings makes these key themes of particular relevance. Their presence in daily life through architectural applications, inside the home and workplace and in modes of transport for example, creates opportunities for coatings’ manufacturers to contribute to a healthier and more sustainable living environment within China. Currently, a number of factors are coming together to influence the direction of the Chinese market’s developments. Forecasts pinpoint a rapid increase in urbanization, with the 13th Five Year Plan targeting a 5.1% increase in the household urbanization registration rate between 2015 and 20201. There is also a rise in living standards and mobility expectations, more consumer awareness of environmental and health issues and new industry-specific regulations. In combination, these are increasing the general focus on emissions and safety and driving demand for more sustainable, high-performance coatings. As a result, manufacturers are needing to look more closely at their chosen formulations and explore ways to address the challenges. Additives that combine sustainability features with the end-application high performance demanded in China and the global markets of its manufacturing industries are helping to take coatings – in particular waterborne coatings – to new levels. Clariant offers a wide range of additive products and solutions for the industry that stand out for their sustainability in terms of supporting safer infrastructure, safer homes, renewable raw materials and safer vehicles. As such, they provide new openings for coatings manufacturers to differentiate their offerings.

The following product highlights, to support the creation of safe and sustainable cities, were presented at the Sustainability Dialog Summit.

The structure of the New Ferry Terminal in Taipa, Macau includes intumescent coatings based on Clariant's Exolit AP. Source: Audax (IC project/Renitherm)


With China’s urbanization, there is a corresponding trend for greater mobility among the population. Both are accompanied by the desire for greater safety. The potential for coatings to support this movement can be seen in the airport sector and the opportunities to improve fire protection in infrastructures.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China is responding to the rise in demand for domestic and international air travel by stepping up the construction of new airports. China plans to build 66 new civil airports in the next five years, taking the number of such airports on the Chinese mainland to 272 from 206. About 77bn yuan (US$11.7bn) was allocated for investment in the construction of civil aviation infrastructure, especially airports, in 2016 according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China2.
In the construction industry, intumescent coatings are used to provide passive fire protection and to protect steel structures from losing their structural strength in a fire. Intumescent foam can attain a thickness of 10 to 100 times of the originally applied coating and insulates the substrate material through its low thermal conductivity. Steel structures coated with intumescent paints can meet the requirements of fire resistance classes specified in EN, BS, ASTM, UL, Chinese standards and others.

To help coatings manufacturers to address both their need for safer, more sustainable production processes and the use of more environmentally compatible building materials, Clariant offers a non-halogenated flame retardant based on Ammonium Polyphosphate – a key raw material for the production of intumescent systems.

Clariant’s Exolit® AP range acts as a main ingredient of intumescent coatings and has an excellent environmental and health profile. Importantly, the intumescent coating gives occupants more time to escape in the event of a fire by providing up to two hours fire resistance time to steel structures. The flame retardant is already widely accepted and features in a number of global infrastructures, including the New Ferry Terminal in Taipa, Macau.


The water-based coatings market in Asia Pacific region is estimated to grow from US$14.8bn in 2015 to US$19bn by 20203. Growing demand for waterborne coatings is likely to be seen in the areas of automotive OEM, car refinish and wood finish coatings. Among consumers, wood continues to be a popular, style-conscious choice for high-appeal interior and outdoor applications.

In part, the demand for water-based coatings can be attributed to improved living standards in China and associated increasing consumer demands in relation to high quality products and health impact. Further issues and challenges include national and local policies for controlling the VOC emission amounts still increasing in China4, such as the newly imposed tax on VOC by local authorities. This means that there are growing needs for processes with less VOC release. In the automotive industry, waterborne intermediate coatings and opaque coatings must be used in all new automotive production lines approved after 2012.

To focus specifically on waterborne wood coatings, Clariant offers low emission light stabilizer dispersions that support the efficient development of highly effective, sustainable UV protective coatings for wood applications. Their improved ecological and VOC-related profile in comparison to solventborne coatings supports safer handling, as well as environmental and end user benefits. Key performance features include increased durability, higher gloss retention and reduced yellowing of clearcoats. They are highly concentrated – meaning they can be used at low-dosage – and they have broad compatibility with most of the waterborne binder systems. Highlighted products are Hostavin® 3330 Disp, a high performance UV absorber and Hostavin® 3070 Disp, a non-extractable polymeric HALS.


To further extend the potential sustainability contribution of China’s coatings industry, Clariant is also focusing its attention on finding alternatives that can ease dependence on traditional petroleum-based materials without compromising performance. Providing support in this area is important. Demand for chemicals, particularly specialty and bio-based chemicals, will grow strongly between now and 2030. By that date, >20% of chemicals sales globally are expected to be based on bio-based materials, with two-thirds of the global chemical market expected to be owned in Asia5.
Renewable-sourced based waxes are included in Clariant’s Ceridust® range of products and solutions regarded as the benchmark for performance surface modifiers. Ceridust® 8090 TP and Ceridust® 8091 TP are revolutionary 100% bio-based renewable raw materials for water-based formulations that offer an outstanding level of performance to wood coatings. They differ in terms of particle size with the larger particle Ceridust 8090 TP giving finished coatings a natural wood-touch surface that also protects the substrate. The addition of Ceridust 8091 TP creates a smooth and soft touch surface and a silky appearance. Scratch resistance performance is improved beyond that of standard wood coatings (Figures 1 and 2).
The bio-based additives also have an increased coefficient of friction in comparison to standard waxes in a water-based polyurethane lacquer (Figures 3 and 4). The combination of benefits supports the development of sustainable wood coatings offering both excellent slip resistance and protection performance.

Figure 1


Figure 2


Figure 3


Figure 4



The latest additive developments from Clariant offer innovative opportunities for coatings manufacturers in China to differentiate their products and extend their role in the creation of safe and sustainable cities. There will be an even greater need for close co-operation and research and development support between the chemicals industry and manufacturers as China continues to move forward with its environmental and sustainability focus.
Clariant is in the process of extending its existing R&D facilities in China with a new R&D centre at the One Clariant Campus in Shanghai, planned for 2019. This is intended to strengthen customer co-operation and interaction and promote the development of solutions locally to meet the industry’s and country’s sustainability needs. The installation of new production and development facilities specifically for additives are also currently under consideration.
Author: Darren Soo, Clariant Coatings (SH), BU Additives
Published by:
Asia Pacific Coatings Journal (APCJ)
  1. Data on urbanization – target by 2020 (from 13FYP) Outline of the Thirteenth Five – Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People ‘s Republic of China.
  2. China January 11, 2016 ‘China to sink billions into new airports this year’.
  3. February 2016.
  4. Tang Xiaoyan, 2012 – presented in ‘The Sustainability Performance of Chemical Industry in China – Opportunities & Challenges’ by Vice Dean, Professor Xiu Guangli, East China University of Science and Technology, Clariant Sustainability Dialog Summit, November 2, 2016
  5. Source: ‘The Future of the Chemical Industry by 2050’ Wiley-VCH. Presented by J Krüger, Head of Corporate Sustainability & Regulatory Affairs, Clariant. ‘Sustainability@Clariant– integrating sustainability in |Clariant operations and activities to develop sustainable solutions’, Sustainability Dialog Summit, November 2, 2016.


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