Tony Mash: don't panic.

Effects of VOCs

Published:  28 April, 2010

Merchants may be familiar with mounting legislation to reduce the amount of Volatile Organic Coumpounds (VOCs) in paints and decorative coatings. Tony Mash, chief executive officer of the British Coatings Federation, explains how it will translate for merchants’ sales.

While not the largest contributors to VOC emissions in the UK, much of the publicity surrounding the legislation has focused on the paint industry leading to some misconceptions that 2010 will see all solvent-based decorative paints, stains and varnishes disappear from the market altogether – but this is not the case.

As of 1 January this year new lower VOC limits came into force, which particularly affect solvent-borne trim paints and varnishes.

That means some traditional solvent-borne (or solvent-based) products have had to be re-formulated to meet these new limits, which may result in changes to application methods required.

The legislation is of no surprise to the coatings industry. Manufacturers of paints and decorative products have long been preparing for this date and developing new formulations for solvent-based products.

Many products on the market today have been VOC 2010-compliant for some time.

These formulation changes have had minimal impact on the performance or finish of products, so applicators will see little difference going forward.

January 2010 saw the end of production of any non-compliant products.

However, merchants can continue to sell any stocks they may have up until 1 January 2011.

For the applicator, there is no legal requirement to discontinue using any products they still may have.

With VOCs traditionally playing a significant part in determining the viscosity, flow and drying time of paints, woodstains and varnishes, meeting the new regulatory requirements has been a challenge.

However, it is one that the industry has achieved successfully through leading research and development capabilities.

A new generation of products has been developed which meets the environmental considerations without compromising on performance or finish.

It is therefore anticipated that the latest regulations will have little impact on merchant sales.

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