American Coatings Association

ACA International Affairs Update: Visits with EU Associations and IPPIC Annual Meeting


ACA continues to engage in various international affairs activities to support the U.S. industry’s global customer base. While limited in its ability to directly shape policy in other countries, ACA relies on close cooperation with the many national and regional trade associations representing the coatings industry globally. Considerable progress has been made this year working through established relationships with associations in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and with the International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC), for which ACA continues to serve as Secretariat. IPPIC held its Annual Meeting, March 2-3, in Tokyo, Japan. For nearly three decades, IPPIC has worked to improve communication and coordinate policy on matters of international concern to the paint and printing inks industry. The council provides a forum for exchange and cooperation on major issues and priorities facing the industry, and has established itself as a global voice for the industry.

In addition, in February, ACA responded to invitations from four paint industry trade associations based in Europe to meet and share information on common challenges. The results of these meetings provided insights on issue management for domestic efforts on behalf of the U.S. industry. Planned in advance, the meeting agendas addressed topics on specific health, safety or environmental legislation and regulation, sustainability program management, workplace training, and product stewardship initiatives.

The following provides highlights from the IPPIC Annual Meeting and ACA’s meetings with its European counterparts.

IPPIC Annual Meeting

IPPIC’s annual meeting, held earlier this month in Tokyo, featured an “Indoor Air Quality and Paint Emissions Testing” workshop, with research findings from Japan, the European Union and in the United States. ACA took the opportunity to share the methodology and results of its own “Continuous Emission Monitoring Protocol” study with the University of Texas at Austin and Berkeley Analytical Laboratories, undertaken to gain a deeper understanding of the emissions from interior paint products, and the potential impact on indoor air quality. The workshop highlighted the need for well-established standard test methods, accepted limit values, and feasible risk management and risk communication methods, and also underscored the global industry’s commitment and cooperation to address indoor air quality issues and potential contribution of paint products.

Also at the meeting, IPPIC’s recently established Industry Stewardship Committee convened for the second time. The group is seeking greater coordination on issue management efforts based on sustainability principles.

The meeting also featured reports on activities with the United Nations and affiliated organizations including work on restricting lead in paint, advancing harmonized requirements for transport of dangerous goods and product labeling, addressing research on cancer risk in the workplace, and technical standards for marine antifouling and protective coatings and nanotechnology. The meeting also provided an update on new global initiatives to address environmental impacts of marine microplastics, including plastic “microbeads.” ACA is currently reviewing the use of micro-plastics in the paint and coatings industry, as microbeads are becoming an issue both nationally — President Obama enacted a law on Dec. 28, 2015, banning microbeads from personal care products — and many states are taking up the issue as well (California has a new law on the books). A similar ban in Australia has also been proposed recently.

Bilateral Meetings with European Associations

United Kingdom
At its meeting with the British Coatings Federation (BCF), the association shared an overview of its innovative programs operating in key support areas for the UK industry including “sustainability,” where a new “toolkit” for association members offers resources for establishing sustainability metrics. Long a valued program for the UK industry, the BCF also provides detailed technical training for those entering the coatings manufacturing industry. Working in concert with the UK government, the BCF training program has an established effectiveness and supports career development and job placement programs, prompting BCF to seek additional audiences for the training in other parts of the world, including Australia, India and parts of Southeast Asia.

ACA and BCF also discussed the challenges of emerging environmental marketing claims and the increased scrutiny of regulators in both the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on “unsubstantiated” claims. Mutual concerns were expressed about “green building” standards and the need for the coatings industry to find a voice to convey the environmental attributes of coatings.

In Frankfurt, ACA met with the German Paint Industry Association (VdL), which operates as part of the larger German Chemical Industry Association (VCI).  VdL staff are directly engaged with German agencies on a number of national initiatives, and work within the EU and as part of the allied chemical industry on international issues.

As an active leader in the area of nanotechnology policy, VdL has conducted and published research findings that have helped assuage concerns regarding health and environmental risk associated with nano-sized particles in a paint formulation, and which have been shown to remain embedded in the film. From this foundation, VdL experts shared that they see the next direct challenge emerging in the “marine microplastics” area, where they believe the paint global paint industry will need to focus efforts to better address the technical needs of regulators and concerns raised by non-governmental organizations, or NGO’s.

Brussels, Belgium, the EU Capital
The European Association for the Paint, Printing Ink and Artist Colors Industries (CEPE) has the overarching responsibility to represent all of the EU-based industry on matters before the European Union’s collective legislative and regulatory bodies.

In addition to this broad and complex challenge, CEPE and its staff take on direct assignments to develop tools and resources to assist EU-based manufacturers in addressing compliance obligations. Focusing on the principles of “life-cycle thinking,” CEPE has supported collective efforts on the development of a life cycle inventory, and the European Commission-led Product Environmental Footprint Category Rule, each aimed at informing certain downstream users (and distribution outlets) on the environmental impacts of industry products. These categorization and accounting tools will allow companies within the EU to produce required customer documentation, including Environmental Product Declarations for their products with the confidence that the underlying principles are sound and technically supported.

A new effort just being established by CEPE will seek to carry these established principles of “life cycle thinking” to address the challenge of emerging chemical-specific regulations under the broad EU chemicals management program known as REACH. Known as the “Paint Formula Stewardship Program,” CEPE is seeking to look at planned and pending chemical safety assessments to be undertaken by the European Chemicals Agency (and other critical paint raw materials likely to face the same assessment), and undertake an advanced screening effort to become informed on the likely outcomes, by which regulation could result in restrictions on use and/or additional risk management requirements. By engaging in this effort, CEPE hopes to inform companies operating in Europe about the need for additional focused innovation and research efforts that will enable the industry to meet customer requirements.

ACA met with FIPEC, the French association representing the paint and coatings industry. FIPEC and its staff are engaged in technical standard-setting activities in France on behalf of its membership, and have expanded its representation to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for work on TC229 on “Nanotechnology.” In this capacity (at ISO), FIPEC has asked IPPIC members to provide technical input on emerging proposals for nanotechnology standards, specifically with respect to the definitions of technical terms which often require clarification to avoid conflict with similar terms used in coatings technology standards (i.e. film, layer, and coating). Working within the strict confines of standards development requirements, FIPEC has been successful in bringing a much improved “science basis” to French and EU technical standards, and in turn, to global standards development for ISO.

ACA continually seeks opportunities to strengthen the industry’s global advocacy positions and profile at international forums, and expand direct relationships with other industry organizations working toward common purposes in the international arena.

Contact ACA’s Steve Sides for more information.