For years, the paint and coatings industry has aggressively looked for strategies to manufacture products in an environmentally conscious way, without compromising product performance.
Industry R&D, market-demand, recent regulatory developments, and the continuing market trends toward water-based coatings, powder coatings, ultraviolet cure coatings, and other processes, as well as lower-emitting coating products, have contributed to reductions in both hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from production in recent years.
In addition to making great strides in process-side emission and waste reductions, the paint and coatings industry has reduced or eliminated a number of harmful constituents from its products, such as lead and mercury.
The paint and coatings industry has taken steps for maximum environmental improvements by managing and minimizing toxins and wastes, reducing air emissions, and promoting product and environmental management stewardship. Here is a brief list of our environmental successes:
Energy usage — and as a result, greenhouse gas emissions — from the paint and coatings sector is very small, as compared to other U.S. manufacturing sectors. In 2007, the paint and coatings sector purchased about 1.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity for heat and power, which represented well under 1% — less than 0.2% — of the total quantity of electricity purchased for heat and power by U.S. manufacturers.
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) releases by the paint and coatings sector decreased by 74% between 1995 and 2009.
83% of architectural coatings sales are for environmentally preferable water-based paint.
The paint and coatings manufacturing sector accounted for less than 1% — 0.37% — of the hazardous waste generated nationally in 2009.
The paint and coatings industry reduced its total production waste by 52% from 1995 to 2009, while increasing the percentage of waste it recycles by almost 50% during that period.
In 2009, the paint and coatings industry recycled, and/or recovered for energy use, 85% of the total waste it generates; broken down, industry recycled 62% of its total waste, and recovered 23% for energy use.
97% of all waste solvents from paint and coatings manufacturing facilities are reclaimed for future use.
Total air releases from the paint and coatings industry decreased by 76% between 1995 and 2009.
VOC emissions from architectural coatings have decreased over the last few decades, even while the usage of architectural coatings have increased over the same time period nationwide.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noted in its recent Paint and Allied Products Rule that the paint manufacturing industry has drastically reduced hazardous air pollutant emissions in the last two decades.
Emissions from hazardous air pollutants were reduced by 67% between 1993 and 2005.
The paint and coatings sector’s total air emission EPA Toxicity Score (a comparative tool that considers relative risks of toxic pollutants) declined by more than 87% from 1994 to 2005.
- Between 1996 and 2005, the paint and coatings sector’s water discharges of EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals declined by about 50%.
In addition, the American Coatings Association (ACA) is involved, on behalf of the industry, in several efforts that promote environmentally conscious business practices.
Since December 2003, ACA and its members have actively participated in the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative (PPSI), a collaborative multi-stakeholder effort to promote leftover paint management solutions that are both financially and environmentally sustainable.
Unused or leftover paint is a major focus of product stewardship efforts because of its high volume in the household hazardous waste stream, its high cost to manage, and the potential for increased reduction, recovery, reuse, and recycling.
PaintCare™— a not-for-profit (501(c)(3) organization — was created by ACA, who, working with state and local government stakeholders, passed the first-ever paint product stewardship law in the United States in Oregon in 2009. Legislation has been enacted in California and Connecticut to launch programs there in 2012 and 2013, respectively. This pilot program is part of an overall paint product stewardship initiative pursuing a nationally coordinated and industry-operated system for the end-of-life management of architectural paint. PaintCare™ is intended to serve as a nationally coordinated system for managing leftover paint with the goal of reducing paint waste; establishing mechanisms for efficient collection, reuse, recycling or disposal of leftover paint. PaintCare™ participation is not limited to ACA members, but open to all architectural paint manufacturers.
In 1996, ACA established a series of resources under the name Coatings Care®, designed to provide members of the industry with a consistent set of practices and information for managing health, safety, and environmental responsibilities. Coatings Care® addresses issues affecting Manufacturing Management, Product Stewardship, Community Responsibility, Transportation and Distribution, and Security. Coatings Care® integrates environmental, health and safety practices that are consistent with other industry standards, such as those found in the ISO 14000 series. Recognized internationally, Coatings Care® has been adopted by the International Paint and Printing Ink Council, which represents the paint and printing ink industry in nine countries.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2004, 2006, and 2008 Sector Strategies Performance Report.
U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Economic Census
The Paints and Coatings Environmental Study, the Environmental Research Institute at the University of California at Riverside
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Paint and Allied Products Rule