Our Mission is Sustainability
At ChemCove one of our main missions is to make this world a greener place through sustainable chemistry. The word sustainability has been used so many times in different contexts in this industry that it has muddied the waters a bit. Paints and coatings have been used for centuries to beautify and color our world, sometimes it is overlooked how much a coat of paint can also provide protection and extend the life cycle of our materials. In this post, we will share what sustainability means to us and how we practice sustainable formulating in our lab.
First things first, we want to stay up to date with new regulations and how suppliers and manufacturers are addressing this issue. The American Coatings Association publishes a sustainability report every year that tells the story of how the coatings industry is innovating towards a more sustainable future. The report highlights advances of manufacturers and suppliers like the development of an odor eliminating low VOC interior coating by Sherwin Williams or APEO-free additives from BASF. It is a great starting point if you want to learn more about sustainability in the paint and coatings industry.
Selection of Materials
When we take in a project at ChemCove, we discuss how we want the formulation to perform and then we get to sourcing raw materials that have the lowest environmental impact. We move more toward working with waterborne technologies but if we have to formulate with solvent, we will go with something that is high solids or we use an exempt solvent like PCBTF (Oxsol 100). When it comes to additives, we want to get the most function out of our additives as possible. This is the smallest part of a formulation but can make the largest impact, and is also the most expensive. We prefer to source additives that are 100% solids and waterborne.
One of the largest struggles is finding raw materials that are environmentally friendly but also perform like a more traditional product (nice way to say hazardous). At the ChemCove lab, we are constantly testing new materials to see how they stack up against each other. It is very time consuming and tedious, but it is a necessary step to formulating for a more sustainable future.
Product Life Cycle
There are many products out there that claim to be “green” and they sure are, but they don’t perform very well or at least are not comparable in performance to the legacy product. So if you have to strip and replace a product so much more often, is it really a more sustainable product? Of course, the amount of waste and process needs to be taken into account. I would be interested to learn about what others think about this concept.
Our take on this is to formulate the best sustainable product that will have the longest life cycle possible. Sometimes we have to get creative, sometimes it is truly an art, and to be honest, sometimes it’s not possible, but we have to try. There are a lot of options for architectural coatings, well-performing waterborne resins, low VOC additives, and versatile colorants. For industrial and specialty coatings it is a bit harder because our options are a bit more limited. By formulating products that last longer, we can make structures more sustainable, reduce landfill waste, and even increase energy efficiency.
Formulating For The Future
Innovations continue to happen as we all take this sustainability issue to heart. The paint and coatings world has come quite a way even in the last decade. These advances will continue to happen as regulations become more stringent and as coating formulators become more and more creative.
Owner & Lead Chemist