The laboratories of Royal Van Wijhe Verf are constantly working to create types of paint with less impact on the environment. These Concept Paints are rapidly developing and the results are encouraging for a sustainable future. Groundbreaking is the new Concept Paint: Flower Power. A wall paint that, with a carbon footprint of 24 kg CO2Eq / 100 kg of product significantly outperforms any existing paint. How does Van Wijhe Verf do it?
Marlies van Wijhe, CEO of Royal Van Wijhe Verf: ‘It started out as a friday-afternoon-experiment. I asked Ron Hulst, Manager R&D, whether he liked the idea of Concept Paint. The idea is similar to concept cars in the automotive industry. First of all, to showcase internally what we are capable of. To let people see we are on our way. To raise the interest of suppliers of raw materials and to empower each other. It is for that same reason that we are now introducing our latest paint in this concept form: the Flower Power wall paint.’
‘We realize that our biggest challenge will be to procure the right raw materials in the future. We have always been at the forefront in our industry when it comes to sustainable development. We are the first B Corp in the chemical sector. We were the first to manufacture biobased wall paint. We see sustainability as an opportunity. That is why we are not waiting for legislation, green deals or total bans on certain raw materials. Things will be different from what they used to be. We have to be open to other options. We want to be surprised, want to learn – that is what drives us to work on Concept Paint.’
Royal Van Wijhe Verf’s bio-based paints produced ten years ago are far from having the same composition as they do today. “Slowly but surely, more biobased raw materials are entering the market. In addition, the biobased content in raw materials is increasing. We try to use these raw materials as much as possible in the development and production of our paints,” Hulst explains.
‘If you really understand nature and that humans are part of it, there is no reason to be pessimistic’, (Willem Ferwerda, former CEO Commonland)
Flower Power titanium dioxide-free
Ron Hulst: ‘We are optimistic. With Flower Power, we bring a hopeful story and show what is already possible today. What if we were to share knowledge and join forces across borders and industries? We have succeeded in eliminating titanium dioxide, one of the most polluting basic raw materials of paint, from our new wall paint. Titanium dioxide is a beautiful pigment; it creates the whitest of whites in paint. However, titanium dioxide has a very strong adverse effect on the carbon footprint. We get our titanium dioxide from Europe, but most of it comes from China. To make it ready for use, the titanium dioxide in its original form is treated with acids. China stores the waste water in reservoir-like basins. The whole process is highly polluting. It may look alright on paper, but this is not what we want. Flower Power is titanium dioxide-free, which makes this wall paint significantly less harmful to the environment. The paint can be applied with brush, roller or air spray. The paint characteristics change. When applying, the paint is transparent; as it dries, it becomes opaque. It requires both professional painters and consumers to view paint differently. As we said earlier, things will be different, and we had better be ready.’
‘We want to be rid of microplastics. Flower Power does not contain any primary microplastics’, continues Ron Hulst. ‘We have taken out the acrylates, the “carbon chains”. We have added another, biodegradable, binding agent. We think we will not cause any secondary microplastics, for example in sanding or peeling of the paint, either. The paint is biodegradable, as further research in the future should demonstrate. This would be a huge step in the transition towards clean and sustainable paints.’
‘Flower Power is biobased or, as we also say, soil based. A product is only truly biobased if the source material grows back during the life of the product. And as a profit warning: a high biobased content does not necessarily mean a low carbon footprint. There are more factors that play a role. We determine the biobased content through a carbon-14 analysis. There are several official test methods that may differ depending on what you submit for testing. This makes it difficult to make a comparison. You can either test the paint as a whole or go for a smaller part thereof. That is why, for Flower Power, we report the values determined openly and transparently, stating the test method used. The total 1-litre can of Flower Power has a biobased content of 61% determined according to NEN 16640. This is considerably higher than our Wijzotex matt biobased, which has a content of 19%. If we test part of the paint according to the test method 6866 of ASTM, the American standardization organization, we arrive at a biobased content of 94%, but that is not something that anyone can simply check. The measurements used by us are certified. Of course, we have looked at the effect on the carbon footprint, because this says much more about the environmental impact. We have compared Flower Power to Wijzotex, our basic wall paint, and to a Wijzotex Extra Matt based on our BIOseries technology. The table shows a development in which we reduce the footprint by some 70%.
Table: biobased content according to NEN16640 LCA in kg CO2Eq / 100 kg Product
–Wijzotex Mat 19% 103
–Wijzotex Extra Mat BIOseries 41% 156
–Flower Power 61% 24
Natural tinting strength
‘How will we create the colours of the future? That is a question that is on our minds. For Flower Power, we have developed four colour pastes, using natural colourants. Made of biological material. To that end, we have worked closely together with our suppliers. We have tested these natural pigments in the paint for hiding power, gloss, colour fastness, scrub resistance class, et cetera. The tests that we do for every paint. The results have been a positive surprise.’ Marlies van Wijhe: ‘It would be great if we could apply this wall paint in actual practice somewhere in the near future. We invite anyone who is up to the challenge to let us know. Of course, this would perfectly fit a sustainable project, in which, for example, existing shells are used and given new interior design. In those projects, the old concrete walls are often left untreated to create an industrial look, where a fresh colour would be a good idea. In terms of scrub resistance, I would like to add this. In this country, unlike our neighbours, it is common to use class 1. Flower Power has a class 3 rating. We will be able to raise this to class 2. Furthermore, Flower Power scores very high on the “Burnish resistance” test, which is at least as important for the consistent quality of the paint applied.’
‘Of course, the development of our Flower Power is still in progress. More research is necessary. What is inherent in biological raw materials is that, after a while, the colour white shows a slight yellowing. In today’s culture, we do not like that. But is it all that bad? We could also see it as a sign that you have applied something good to your wall. More research will be necessary to see what the colour fastness of the natural pigments is over time, and how colour-fast the colours are without UV blockers. What preservation can we develop to replace the existing one? We have taken some important steps. It raises questions, and that was exactly what we wanted. It leads to further, new developments. Asking questions and learning takes us further. We are notorious among our suppliers for asking difficult questions. Our internal painters have used Flower Power and applied test coats. Some striking results: the smell is different and certainly not unpleasant; there is hardly any striping; the paint can be sprayed on. In other words: it is already a future usable paint. For now it is a concept paint.
Join us as a pioneer in innovating concept paints
If you see an opportunity to use this Flower Power Concept Paint in a project, and to contribute to further development and be a pioneer, please email email@example.com.’
The driving force behind the commitment of Royal Van Wijhe Verf is the intrinsic motivation of Marlies van Wijhe to work on a sustainable future. Marlies on her moral compass: ‘I get the concerns that young people have. Our generation has made its mark, and it has led to an urgent climate problem. We owe it to the next generation to turn things around, to instigate a change on which they can build. I feel that responsibility. We are hopeful and optimistic for the future. It is high time to convert our dreams into action. Concrete action. We invite those who are working on innovation or who want to contribute in any way to join forces with us. Team work is the key to success. We are enthusiastic about a sustainable and climate-neutral future. That is why we like to share what we do at the laboratory, to put our money where our mouth is. Like our groundbreaking developments with Concept Paints.’