January 22, 2016
As we outlined in the first installment of our series, companies can define sustainability in many different ways, from energy use to operational processes to productivity.
But one definition might matter just a bit more to paint and coatings companies – and that’s the definition as outlined by local, regional and national governments. Those are the definitions that get incorporated into laws, which can carry penalties for noncompliance.
That’s not to say your company should implement sustainable practices merely to stay in compliance – it is also a responsible step to take for your community, your customers and the environment. But those potential penalties are still lurking out there, and laws governing sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, including the usage of low-VOC compounds, are only going to get more stringent.
What do you need to know about sustainability laws and regulations? Let’s take a look.
Everything has a sell-by date
One of the most far-reaching sets of laws governing industrial chemicals is disposal laws. Companies that improperly dispose of unusable chemical-based products are subject to fines and other forms of punitive action.
And why do coatings become unusable? The most common reason, simply put, is that they’ve expired.
That means two of the most essential questions you should ask at the outset of the production process for a new coating are, “Will we sell it right away?” and “Will our customer use it right away?”
The shelf life of a coating can vary, depending on how it is formulated. Coatings can lose their original properties and determined to be defective by the customer, thus creating waste.
Coatings that are going to sit in storage for an extended time need to be formulated as such, with additives and mixtures that extend the product’s life. That way, when the customer needs to use them, they still maintain the desired properties once applied and dried. It’s a conversation that needs to happen between the supplier and the customers before anything rolls out of your production plant.
Learn the local landscape
Local laws governing the product, sale, storage and disposal of chemical compounds can vary greatly by region, so it’s important to know the lay of the legislative land in regions where your product will be made, sold and applied.
Many cities, regions and states are passing updated legislation that promotes the usage of low-VOCs and other compounds that leave less of an environmental footprint when compared to more toxic compounds. California is a prime example – counties in Southern California have had a long and well-publicized battle with air and water pollution, and as a result, their anti-pollution regulations are among the most stringent in the nation.
If you are going to produce or sell products overseas, international regulations can add another layer of complexity to compliance, as laws – and the enforcement of those laws – can vary greatly from country to country.
The easiest way to ensure compliance is to manufacture your products to comply with the strictest regulations within your production and sales footprint, and use that as your guideline for future production.
Continuing education is key
Laws and regulations are always changing, so to keep up with the most current ones, your chemists, sales staff and marketers need to stay informed about new laws that have either passed or that are currently before legislative bodies. In addition, it’s important to follow emerging trends in sustainability.
Encourage, or even require, your key technical personnel to participate in professional committees and organizations that promote awareness of sustainability-related topics. It’s important that your chemists, formulators, sales staff and marketers are continuously educated on sustainability and the regulations governing it.
It’s also important that coatings manufacturers work with suppliers who are equally as educated on sustainability topics. Colorants play an integral role in areas such as low-VOC compliance, which means colorant manufacturers must be among the educated suppliers for any coatings company. Chromaflo is one such supplier that makes a continuous effort to stay current on the sustainability issues our coatings customers face.
Armed with the right knowledge and the right supply partners, you’ll be able to deliver high-quality, compliant coatings products to your customers.
Chromaflo Technologies is a leading provider of colorant technologies for the architectural and industrial coatings industries. Contact us at (440) 997-5137 to discuss a colorant solution to meet your sustainability goals.