Environmental Glossary of Terms

Information on environmental terms and how they relate to the boat painting industry.

Biocide-free or Non-toxic

Antifouling biocides are active chemical ingredients that are released from an antifouling paint film to inhibit the settlement and growth of organisms such as weed and barnacles on the bottom of a boat. Biocide-free paint does not contain any active ingredients in the formulation which act in this way. Such products control the growth of organisms by other non-chemical means, such as by physical surface effects (e.g. non-stick surfaces, continuously eroding surfaces), making the surface too difficult to attach to.
Benefit: No emissions of active ingredients into the water

Carbon Footprint

A measure of the impact our greenhouse gas emissions have on the environment, and in particular on climate change. It can be calculated for a particular product, for a manufacturing site or for any activity we undertake. It is a measurement of all the greenhouse gases produced in units of tonnes (or kg) of carbon dioxide equivalent. AkzoNobel has a clear Carbon Policy setting out targets and ambitions to be achieved by 2015 and 2020.
Benefit: Quantifies the green house gasses produced.

Carbon neutral

A commonly accepted terminology for something having net zero emissions of greenhouse gases (for example, an organisation or product). As the organisation or product will typically have caused some greenhouse gas emissions, it is usually necessary to use carbon offsets to achieve neutrality. Carbon offsets are emissions reductions that have been made elsewhere and which are then sold to the entity that seeks to reduce its impact. In order to become carbon neutral it is important to have a very accurate calculation of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions which need to be offset – requiring calculation of a carbon footprint.
Benefit: No additional greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere

CFC or Chlorofluorocarbons

These are materials which traditionally had many applications, such as use as propellants in aerosols and as coolants in refrigeration units. Known to deplete the ozone layer in the Earth’s stratosphere , most uses have been severely restricted or banned under international treaties e.g. Montreal protocol


Copper is used in antifouling paint as a biocide. Copper-free paint does not contain any copper (either as a pigment or as part of the polymer)
Benefit: Reduced emissions of copper to water / reduced environmental impact associated with reduction in copper emissions into the environment

Degradable biocides

Biocides are chemical ingredients in paint that inhibit the settlement and growth of organisms such as weed and barnacles on the bottom of a boat. Degradable biocides are biocides that break down in water into harmless constituents, for example via hydrolysis or photo degradation. Biodegradable biocides are broken down by microbes in water and sediments.
Benefit: Biocide does not persist in the environment

Dow Jones Sustainability Index

Launched in 1999, DJSI is a global index for tracking the financial performance of the leading (best 10%) sustainability-driven companies worldwide. AkzoNobel is selected as a member of the DJSI since September 2005.


The term was coined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in 1992. It is based on the concept of creating more goods and services while using fewer resources and creating less waste and pollution. Critical aspects of eco-efficiency are:-
  • A reduction in the material intensity of goods or services
  • A reduction in the energy intensity of goods or services
  • Reduced dispersion of toxic materials
  • Improved recyclability
  • Maximum use of renewable resources
  • Greater durability of products
  • Increased service intensity of goods and services
The reduction in ecological impacts translates into an increase in resource productivity, which in turn can create a competitive advantage.

Eco Premium

Eco-premium solutions are competitively-priced, high-end products that have more environmental benefits than their mainstream equivalents. This eco-efficiency can happen at any stage of a product’s lifetime – from the extraction of natural resources to manufacturing, end-use and final waste management. For AkzoNobel, as much as 18 percent of our revenue comes from eco-premium products. Our aim is to increase this figure to 22 percent in 2009 and 30 percent by 2015
Benefit: Reduced environmental impact without losing product performance


Environmentally toxic. Ecotoxic substances have potential to cause severe damage if released into the environment or into a specific ecosystem in toxic quantities.

Ecological Footprint or Environmental Footprint

A measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It compares human demand with planet Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate. While the term ‘ecological footprint’ is widely used, methods of measurement vary, although calculation standards are emerging.
Benefits: Quantifies the total impact that a product or an organisation has on the all of the planet’s resources


This refers to pollutants such as chemicals, particulate matter and other pollutants that enter the atmosphere, e.g. Volatile organic compound (VOCs, emitted as paint dries/cures) or exhaust fumes from internal combustion engines. AkzoNobel new product development programmes are focussed on minimising the emissions of VOC and biocides from our antifouling coatings.

Environmental impact

An assessment of the possible impact - positive or negative - that a proposed activity such as a new project may have on the environment. The purpose of making such an assessment is to ensure that decision makers consider the ensuing environmental impacts when deciding whether to proceed with a project. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as "the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made."

Environmentally Friendly (also Eco-friendly, nature friendly and green)

Goods and services considered to inflict minimal or no harm to the natural world. Labelling of products as ‘Environmentally Friendly’ is largely governed by voluntary codes. In some cases the use of these terms can cause confusion if they are not clearly defined.

Fuel Efficient Antifouling

Reduced fuel consumption (like-for-like vessel usage) relative to when a typical or mainstream antifouling used.
Benefit: Low friction &/or self-smoothing surface reduces drag. Increased speed, increased fuel efficiency and reduced C02 emissions

Greenhouse Gas

These are gases in an atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. They include gases such as methane, Carbon Dioxide and Ozone . They are essential to the planet in order to maintain temperature; without them the earth would be considerably cooler. However in recent times human activities have increased emissions of these gases, which has lead to the ‘Greenhouse Effect’; where thermal energy is retained in the atmosphere and average temperatures are increasing.


The practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources. Examples:-
  • Focus on one environmental benefit whilst ignoring numerous harmful impacts
  • Appearing to claim external approval when no verification is possible
  • Vague claims, such as 100% natural, even when some components, though natural are actually hazardous
  • Irrelevant claims such as CFC-free, 20 years after CFCs were effectively banned
  • Making false claims, lying
  • Contradiction, e.g. describing a hazardous pesticide as ‘Environmentally friendly’

HAPS or Hazardous Air Pollutant

Name given by the US authorities to the most potent ‘air toxics’, which are thought to cause serious health and environmental problems, such as cancer and/or birth defects in humans etc. The term originated from the US 1990 Clean Air Act, introduced to reduce emissions of certain air toxics from industry
Benefits: Clear definition for all materials classified as HAPs

HAPs free

Product does not contain or emit materials defined as Hazardous Air Pollutants
Benefits: Minimal negative impact on the environment


Describes a material, substance or activity with the potential to cause harm to man and/or the environment.

Heavy Metal

Any metal with a specific gravity of 5.0 or greater. Especially one that is toxic to organisms, such as lead, mercury, copper, and cadmium

High Solids

More than 60% of the product is solid matter that will not evaporate in to atmosphere.
Benefit: Reduced emissions to air and impact on the environment. Possibly VOC compliance (where applicable). Aids compliance with applicable legislation, such as the Solvent Emissions Directive (SED) in Europe

Legislative Bodies

Persons that make, amend or repeal laws

Low Copper Leaching

Leaching refers to the rate at which a biocide, such as copper, is released from the paint film in order to inhibit the growth of organisms on the bottom of a boat. Antifouling which leaches copper in salt water at less than a steady state leaching rate of less than 10 µg per cm2 per day may be described as low copper leaching or low copper antifouling1
Benefit: Reduced emissions to water/impact on the environment
1 Leaching rate as determined by calculation using a mass balance approach

Low odour

Indicates that a paint produces less odour than a standard or mainstream alternative. There are no standards for categorising a paint as low odour

Low solar absorption

A coating designed to absorb less solar energy than standard coatings, typically via the use of low solar absorption pigments. A topcoat designed in this way and used on the exterior of a yacht will result in reduced temperature of the exterior surfaces and of the interior compartments, reducing the load on the vessel’s cooling systems.

Low Surface Energy

Coating that repels water molecules (hydrophobic), smooth and/or has elastic properties to which fouling organisms cannot easily attach.
Benefit: Reduced drag. Increased speed, increased fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions


Indicate that a product produces less VOC than the alternative or mainstream products available for the same use. We consider paints that comply with the most stringent current legislation (i.e. Southern California) to be low VOC as below:-

Antifouling.......................................330g VOC/litre wet paint as applied
Wood Sealer..................................490g/l
Extreme High Gloss Finish ........490g/l
High Gloss Finish.........................420g/l
Interior Finish.................................340g/l
Finish Primer / Surfacer...............420g/l
Primers and Undercoats.............340g/l

Benefit: Reduced emissions to air/impact on the environment. VOC compliance (where applicable). Aids compliance with EU air pollution legislation such as the Solvent Emissions Directive SED (where applicable)

Natural Products

A chemical compound or substance that is produced by a living organism. Often natural products are considered to be benign or harmless, although this is not necessarily the case. For example, snakes produce highly toxic venoms, and certain fungi are poisonous due to presence of toxins inside their tissues.
Benefit: Use of natural products usually has minimal environmental impact as they generally come from a renewable source.

Non-persistent biocide

Biocide that breaks down in to harmless substances in the environment.


See Biocide-free

Ozone friendly

This term is often found on labels and in literature. It typically means that the product does not contain CFC [Chlorofluorocarbon] gases that contribute to the ozone layer depletion.

Product Stewardship

Programme employed by the Marine, PC and Yacht Business Unit of AkzoNobel that aims to protect its employees, customers, the public and the environment by:-
  • Making protection of health, safety and the environment an early and integral part of our product development process
  • Providing high quality and relevant information on the safe use and disposal of our products
  • Being responsive to the concerns of the community, customers, employees and other stakeholders
  • Complying with all legal requirements affecting our operations and our products in the countries in which we do business
  • Actively participating with industry associations in the development of equitable and attainable standards throughout the world.


A material that can be reprocessed and reused following its initial use. Many metals and plastics are recyclable and many regions have the infrastructure in place to reprocess the materials
Benefit: Reduced consumption of natural resources, such as wood and metals

Societal Concern

A rather vague term that may mean different things to different people. UK Health & Safety Executive define as "...the risks or threats from hazards which impact on society and which, if realised, could have adverse repercussions for the institutions responsible for putting in place the provisions and arrangements for protecting people, e.g. the Government of the day. These are often associated with hazards that give rise to risks which, were they to materialise, could provoke a socio-political response. More simply theses are substances in products where public concern exists over their use or where such concern over their use can be anticipated in the future


The capacity for the planet to replace the resources consumed. A sustainable business implies that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. At AkzoNobel we are committed to reducing our impact on the planet and delivering more sustainable products and solutions to our customers.
Benefits: Minimal long term impact on natural resources


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases or vapours emitted by various solids or liquids. Paint and paint strippers, along with many domestic products often contain VOCs which are emitted when they are applied or used. VOCs are essential in many Yacht coatings. Topcoats are a key example as they are expected to have excellent aesthetics and hence require excellent flow properties.

Water based / Low VOC coating

Coating where primary solvent is water and VOC is less than 150 g/lt of liquid product. (theoretical value, assuming worst case)
Benefit: Reduced emissions to air / impact on the environment. No solvents required for clean up of equipment, VOC compliance (where applicable). Aids compliance with SED (where applicable). Low odour. Improved working environment (especially when indoors)

White Copper

Normally referring to an alloy of copper and nickel or copper and zinc, more recently it is being used simply to describe Copper Thiocyanate, which is a white or grey powder used in some antifouling paints as a biocide.
Benefit: Antifouling products containing copper thiocyanate often leach copper from antifouling more slowly than those containing a similar quantity of copper oxide