At the inaugural 2011 Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Green Excellence Awards, Nippon Paint was awarded with the product innovation award in decorative paints for its odour-less AirCare, an eco-friendly paint that absorbs harmful indoor air pollutant and results in clean fresh air. This award reaffirms Nippon Paint’s commitment to ecological sustainability and technological innovation.
To understand more about Nippon Paint’s sustainability and innovation commitment, Green Business Singapore recently met up with Mr Wee Siew Kim, the Group CEO of NIPSEA Group of Companies.
Continuous Sustainability and Innovation Commitment
Mr Wee shared that Nippon Paint has always been mindful of the context in which they make money through paint, and it is important to take into consideration their responsibility on the environmental, social, and economic aspects. The various aspects are all linked and is a continuous process in the company. Through leadership in being green, it helps to push the brand forward and makes business sense.
The award by Frost & Sullivan is a recognition of this continuous process, which is the result of long-term thinking and actions over many years. The continual commitment to research and innovation, and understanding what customers need, has helped the company introduce new innovative green products to the market.
Mr Wee explained that Nippon Paint was the first in Singapore to introduce odour-less paint in 2006, taking out the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and thus removing the smell. The company realised that people connect better to odour and smell, rather than VOCs, and thus marketed their product as odour-less. Other brands have since followed Nippon Paint in introducing odour-less paint.
Nippon Paint went on to introduce SolaReflect, which is an exterior wall paint with properties that reflect infrared, thus reducing the surface temperature. This helps to reduce the interior temperature of buildings, and results in energy savings through less use of air-conditioning. SolaReflect has been proven effective in reducing the surface temperature of buildings by up to 30°C.
Another recent product, which won the Frost & Sullivan award for product innovation in the decorative coatings category, is the odour-less AirCare, an eco-friendly and anti-bacterial paint that continually absorbs formaldehyde (a harmful indoor air pollutant) and converts it to water vapour with active carbon technology, resulting in clean fresh air.
Barriers to Uptake
Although Nippon Paint has introduced green products that are better for health with low VOCs and those that help in energy conservation, Mr Wee shared that it still takes time to switch consumer preferences. Even though they want to promote green products, they would have to move at a pace that the market can accept. This is an ongoing progression that involves both rolling out green products and educating consumers.
The biggest barriers to the uptake of green paints are education and costs. Consumers are more environmentally aware, however, there is still a gap between awareness and action. It depends on their affluence and affordability, and consumers have to recognise that they generally have to pay more for green products that are better for their health and the environment.
The increase in Green Mark-certified green buildings in Singapore has helped to increase awareness and more people are talking about green buildings and maybe to consider green paint. However, there is still no clear direct correlation resulting in the greater use of green paints.
Environmental and Social Initiatives
Mr Wee shared that their manufacturing plants are reducing waste in the production process, and the plants are ISO 9000, ISO 14000, and OHSAS 18000 certified as a basic criteria.
The company also has initiatives involving employees in social responsibility. In China, the employees are helping to repaint schools in villagers, and in some cases rebuilding schools. In Singapore, employees help to repaint homes.
Mr Wee sees a global trend that people would become more aware, slightly more affluent, and places more emphasis on health. The middle class in Asia would grow in numbers and their willingness to pay a bit more for performance paints becomes more acceptable.
Manufacturers have to innovate and meet those needs, and he welcomes more competition as it would keep Nippon Paint on its toes. With the sheer push of the market and competition, there will be more innovation. In the future, Nippon Paint would continue to develop products that focus on health, green, and performance.
In conclusion, Mr Wee stressed that Nippon Paint’s sustainability and innovation commitment is a long journey and will continue for a long time, and this reflects the company’s ethics and responsibility of employees, environment and shareholders, feeding positively on each other.
Images: Nippon Paint