Environmental Issues Associated with Paints and Varnishes

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Overview

The paint and coatings manufacturing industry is one of the major chemical processing industries. The major environmental impacts of paints and varnishes are concerning their content of solvents and other chemicals. There is a need to encourage manufacturers to use less of these substances, and to ensure proper environmental management throughout the manufacturing process. Procurement of paints and varnishes is classified as having a high environmental profile and some risk of developing world supply chains.

Summary of Life Cycle Record

Raw Material Use
• Raw materials include solvents, pigments, dyes, and other chemicals. In addition, other raw materials are used to thin oil-based paints and stains or to clean up the residues left behind, such as turpentine and mineral spirits.
• Some paints contain petroleum-based by products of the oil industry • The main uses of paints and varnishes are for architectural use (e.g. DIY), industrial use and automotive use.
• VOCs may be released during use.
• Some paints can emit noxious gases such as toluene and xylene, which are known carcinogens.

Manufacture Waste Management/Disposal
• The main components of the manufacture process are synthesis in a reactor, filtration, blending with other additives and packaging Paint related waste is often categorised as hazardous (special waste) due to its chemical content.
Waste Management/Disposal options include:
• Recycling
• Incineration

Key Impacts and Priority Mitigation Measures

The key impacts in relation to paints and varnishes are:
• Raw materials are often non-renewable and can be based on oil solvents
• Solvent release, more specifically releases of VOCs to the atmosphere, which contribute to ground-level ozone, global warming and some have specific health effects. (There are more VOCs in gloss than emulsion)
• Dyes and other chemicals used can also be harmful to health and the environment.
• Wastewater and other solutions

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