Azelis in Action
We’re on a mission to become the world-leading distributor of sustainable products and services in our industry. Discover how we’re taking action together for a sustainable future.
In July 2018, we launched the first edition of the Sales Academy across the EMEA region. The first session of the EMEA Sales Academy took place in Antwerp and has been followed by another many more editions. The objective of the Sales Academy is threefold. Firstly, we want to support our sales team so they can achieve even better results for our customers. Last but not least, we want to form a network of Azelis representatives across all countries and market segments.
Azelis Americas University (AAU) is a program that recruits candidates for the CASE market segment (coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers) from on-campus recruitment at select universities such as Texas A&M, University of Georgia, University of Cincinnati, and the University of Texas. The chosen candidates move through a rotation program to learn about our company, products, and businesses.
The rotation program typically includes three to six months in a lab, a month or two working with a supply chain team, and sometimes working with an inside sales team. Participants then shadow technical sales representatives until being moved into their own territory. The effectiveness of this approach is being evaluated with a future goal of replicating the program in all market segments in the Americas. Secondly, the Sales Academy ensures a harmonized way of working based on our best practices and business ethics.
Azelis Singapore increased the paid annual leave entitlement of all its employees by 20 percent. The number of days of leave – which does not include statutory public holidays – was raised, significantly exceeding the provisions of the Singapore Employment Act. In addition, the company decided to grant three additional paid days of leave for every five years of service with the company. The Singapore office also extended childcare leave to all employees, including foreign employees who were previously excluded from this entitlement in accordance with the provisions of the Singapore Employment Act.
Azelis develops multiple formulations for white elastomeric roof coatings. These contribute to energy conservation, extend building life, and protect the environment by using water rather than organic solvents. A challenge is to ensure that the coating adheres well to the many types of roofing material, to prevent rainwater leakage. Different formulations have been developed for different roofing materials. A recent development is our new Multi-Purpose Primer formulation, which will prepare almost any roofing material for coating with a common topcoat formulation.
Within our Home Care market segment and together with some key partners, we developed sustainable solvents as an alternative to the traditional solvents readily used in the industry. The project consisted of testing, developing, and promoting alternatives in the marketplace. We used different means to reach our goal such as technical training, lab support, formulation support, and application kits, allowing us to successfully replace the traditional solvents with sustainable alternatives.
Our St Mary’s manufacturing facility in Azelis Australia takes a sustainable approach to waste management. General waste is split between plastic, cardboard, or paper and general waste, which passes over a weighbridge for accurate records of disposal or recycling. All drains at our waste treatment plant block, shut, or lead, allowing us to capture all run-off water, rainwater or – in the case of an emergency – allowing accidental spills to be stopped, processed, and checked. In production we treat the wastewater, removing the solids from the water, and we are continually looking for ways to reduce the solid content in our waste, trialing methods like bio reactions, and drum filtering.
Arabella Lane, Samples Administrator, Azelis UK, came up with the great idea to re-use cardboard boxes for sending out samples to our customers:
"I joined the Samples department a year ago, but I’ve been passionate about recycling for a long time. Having children flipped the switch and made me conscious of the world’s resources and climate change. The Samples department receives many parcels daily, so we’re constantly dealing with many forms of packaging. I discovered in a supplier’s delivery what appeared to be cardboard matting, which gave me the eureka moment! A search on the internet revealed specialist cutting machines that could turn waste cardboard into ‘padding’."
Matt Nancekivell travelled halfway around the world to take up a senior position at Azelis in Belgium. Matt joined Azelis in 2017 as Managing Director New Zealand when we completed the acquisition of Chemcolour. In 2020, he was appointed to the role of Digital Solutions Director for Azelis, where he is focused on implementing the digital strategy for the group.
Anastazja Biskupska-Kindziuk joined Azelis in 2017 as SHEQ Manager for central and eastern Europe. In 2021 she became our first SHEQ Manager for EMEA, as part of our strategy to create functional leaders in all regions.
Dr. Jessica Silva, Lab Director, was promoted to Director of Labs, Americas in October 2020. This change will help us better align our business model and streamline laboratory operations throughout the Americas. Jessica has been a key member of our laboratories team since joining Azelis in 2016.
Mastery Training focuses on employee development, compliance, anti-harassment and diversity. The program offers 285 computer-based courses. Azelis Americas employees can select any course with their manager’s approval, often as part of the annual performance review. On average, our employees in the region took 6.4 elective courses in the year, in addition to compliance courses.
The ALC (Azelis Leadership Council) was founded in 2019 and includes 12 members from Canada, the US and Mexico. Members meet monthly and hold a quarterly meeting with a guest speaker. The council is led by Frank Bergonzi, Azelis Americas CEO & President. It is an employee-led forum focused on advancement, mentoring and leadership opportunities and on increasing gender diversity across all levels and functions within Azelis Americas. The ALC is responsible for a mentoring and coaching program that is designed to empower all Azelis Americas employees.
Due to the globally increasing concern for environmental safety, many customers operating in agricultural markets are looking for new ways to formulate with
greener solvents, without affecting product performance. In Italy, our specialty Agri/Horti laboratory has been experimenting for a long time with more environmentally friendly solvents. When challenged by a customer to develop a new formulation using only solvents classified as non-hazardous, the team swung into action with an innovative and sustainable solution.
In India, the Azelis Food & Health laboratory helped a customer offer consumers plant-based milk products as alternatives to cow or buffalo milk. A challenge when producing milk from oats is that the starches present in oats tend to gelatinize and raise the viscosity of the milk. The Azelis laboratory demonstrated that a combination of natural enzymes could control this tendency. The result was an oat milk product that was not only easier to produce and but also less viscous for consumers. In addition, the enzymes released some of the natural sugars from the starch, giving the oat-milk a pleasant sweetness. India is not the only country where there is growing demand for vegan food and drink, for both ethical and environmental reasons. Around the world, Azelis is supporting the switch to plant-based foods, responding to customer trends and helping reduce pressure on land and water resources.
In 2020, an Azelis principal developed a new grade of citrus fiber, derived from citrus peel, which has useful properties for modifying the texture of food products. Our Shanghai, China Food & Health laboratory developed a series of mango fruit juice formulations to demonstrate to customers the value they can gain from this new product. The citrus fiber can replace
other food additives that do not benefit from its clean label identity. It can suspend fruit pulp naturally, with no need for artificial ingredients and convinced end-users with a pleasant mouth-feel.
In 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Azelis teams all around the world stepped up to donate masks to hospitals and healthcare workers. Our ExCom decided to allocate our Azelis charity fund to the donation of medical masks to healthcare organizations that were in desperate need of protective gear. Using all our logistical skills, supported by the generosity of our colleagues, we were able to make a real difference at a difficult time for the world’s healthcare workers. In the Los Angeles area, Azelis Americas donated
much-needed surgical face masks to Whittier hospital. Sal Diaz, Distribution Center Manager for Azelis and a long-time resident of the Los Angeles area, responded quickly when local hospitals reached out about the shortage of PPE. Thanks to Sal and his team, Azelis orchestrated the procurement of 2,000 surgical face masks which were promptly donated. The hospital and caregivers were extremely thankful. Meanwhile, as a result of the dedication and generosity of our colleagues in Shanghai, we managed to purchase a total of 12,000 disposable surgical masks and 1,000 K95 masks which we shipped to several different locations, with the help of local teams around the world. We shipped masks to the UK, the US, France, Turkey and Belgium. On a more local basis, many Azelis offices provided help to local hospitals and care centers. In France, the team organized a large donation of masks to the French Red Cross. In Belgium, Azelis provided masks to general practitioners on the frontline of the healthcare crisis.
Our entities are making efforts to reduce the consumption of energy. For instance in Germany, we have restructured the lighting in our warehouse and installed more than 500 LEDs in addition to assessing the best way to proceed to install a photovoltaic system on the warehouse roof. Since 2018, we have used so-called green contracts to purchase renewable energy from our electricity provider in Italy which guarantees the origin of the energy source. In 2021, we have extended this contract to supply our site at Cinisello Balsamo with electricity from renewable sources. In Spain, 16.1% of our power comes from renewable sources.
2022 saw continued supply chain disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic result in shortages of water-based emulsions of epoxy resins, which are used in various products, from adhesives to floor coatings and paints. Our CASE lab in Wisconsin in the US was approached by several customers who wanted help to make their own epoxy emulsions instead of scouring the globe for those that were available. We were able to formulate emulsions of several types of liquid epoxy resins. Crucially, the formulations can be mixed at ambient temperatures and with only moderate agitation, meaning that new emulsions can be made on small premises with typical lab mixers and without the need for temperature control or sophisticated high shear mixing equipment. This has helped to reduce our customers’ reliance on more expensive imports, while cutting transportation costs – and carbon emissions – in the process.
As water scarcity has become a crucial factor in many companies’ sustainability considerations, toothpaste manufacturers, have begun to look at ways of cutting water use. One way of doing this is to use less water in the actual toothpaste by replacing it with other substances that do the same job. In 2022, a customer in China asked us to investigate this idea with the proviso that any non-aqueous alternatives must be natural and environmentally friendly. Our experiments found that two naturally occurring substances, xanthan gum and carrageenan gum, work very well in non-aqueous toothpaste. As we carry out further tests to establish the stability of viscosity of xanthan gum and carrageenan gum in different temperature and storage conditions, the potential water reduction benefits look promising.
The replacement of 8,000 square meters of roofing with polysheet material at our St Mary’s site and warehouse in New South Wales / Australia has led to much more natural light in the warehouse and allows large banks of lights to be turned off during the day. In 2022 we also began wiring adjustments necessary to install LED lights and installed 288 solar panels on the warehouse roof. These will supply electricity for around 30% of our daily lighting and will save approximately 12 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
To raise awareness of risk ‘normalization’, we introduced training programs and workshops in Auckland / New Zealand, during 2022. Employees were trained to identify a number of improvements to avoid risky or dangerous behaviors becoming normalized. These included monthly walkabouts and inspections by managers to engage with employees in the workplace and the introduction of a job safety analysis process for high-risk activities, such as working at height or in confined spaces. The introduction of a gantry crane at our facility in New Zealand has reduced the risk of injuries by freeing employees from strenuous lifting. As the crane comes with its own potential risks, we have introduced compulsory health and safety training both for operators and for anyone working near it. The course now forms part of the NZQA level 3 manufacturing certificate which production staff are working towards achieving during 2023.