Sustainability and the coatings industry

December 10, 2015

Sustainable business practices are geared not just toward the betterment of a business but also toward the betterment of the people, community and resources that form a company’s essential support structure.
Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring a series of articles on what sustainability means to coatings companies and to their customers. By examining this broad topic through multiple lenses – including regulatory compliance, product development, business best practices and the social and economic impacts of sustainability – our experts will shed light on the real impact of sustainability on the coatings industry.

Sustainability in coatings
The coatings industry is in a unique position to influence sustainable products and practices, not just for its own member companies but also for its suppliers and end-use customers. Because coatings touch so many industries, including architectural, industrial, automotive, wood and OEM, coatings companies can make sustainable business choices that positively impact a wide range of end-use applications – including many products that consumers use every day. For starters, without healthy and safe employees, a positive working relationship with the surrounding community and responsible use of resources, it will be difficult for a business to survive long term.

The many faces of sustainability
Making sustainable choices for your business can affect everything from your financial resources to the energy you consume, to your company’s image and relationship with your community and with the government agencies you may interact with regarding environmental issues and legislation. For coatings companies, the far-reaching impacts of sustainability can include:

  • Environmental considerations. It is the responsibility of every business to be a good steward of the surrounding environment and its natural resources. By choosing low-VOC, low-HAPs raw materials that decrease emissions and waste, coatings producers can reduce the negative effects of coatings on the local environment and the planet, while staying compliant with increasingly stringent environmental regulations and standards.


  • Energy use. The energy needed to transform raw materials into coatings varies depending on the process and materials used. However, total energy consumption incorporates the electricity required to run mills and processing/packaging equipment, fuel needed to transport raw materials and finished goods, and even the energy consumed in waste disposal. Solutions that make these processes more efficient can help coatings companies reduce energy consumption throughout the production and supply chains. These might include implementing energy-saving machinery, streamlining materials sourcing or utilizing more efficient production and batch control processes.


  • Industry regulation. To protect people and the planet, governments both here and abroad are implementing increasingly strict regulations for the coatings industry. Tightening restrictions will continue on VOCs and HAPs in in these markets, as well on as the disposal of any potentially hazardous waste. The coatings industry must continue to use advances in technology to stay ahead of environmental legislation, as government agencies will continue to increase pressure to comply.


  • Economic and financial outcomes. If processes and products aren’t adequately sustainable, it ultimately costs everyone money. Coatings companies can incur significant expenses by operating inefficiently, whether due to inefficient raw materials sourcing, production or waste disposal, and be forced to pass these costs onto the end consumer, resulting in finished product at higher prices. Governmental agencies may also fine coatings companies for not keeping compliant with environmental regulations – making the cost of unsustainable business practices, and your company’s valuable reputation in the marketplace, even higher.

We encourage you to take a deeper look at the many different ways sustainability can impact your coatings company, including regulatory and technical matters, conservation and recycling, and the social and economic impacts.
Check back here often, as we continue the discussion on this important topic for coatings industry stakeholders.

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