Paint Manufacture and Sustainability

Just because a paint is classed as 'Low-VOC' does not mean it is environmentally preferable. It is important to consider the entire manufacturing process of a product, and its' environmental impact.

Another problem with synthetic paints is post-application wastage and disposal. The petrochemical paints that currently dominate the market are predominately derived from oil, a non-renewable resource. In most paints up to 20% of a tin by volume can be the pigment Titanium Dioxide, a product that can have a very high environmental impact load associated with it. Waste needs to be specially treated to avoid adverse environmental impacts.

The manufacture of petrochemical based paint is energy-intensive, and the production of of 1 tonne of solvent-based paint can produce 10-30 tonnes of toxic waste, much of which is non-degradable

Plant and Mineral-based paints are made using naturally occurring ingredients, and therefore do not require high levels of processing. Many of the ingredients are made from renewable resources, such as linseed oil, and citrus oil, and therefore avoid contributing to greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the product.  'Natural' paints use plant-derived solvents and binders instead of synthetic ones, and usually have low VOC levels. It results in better health outcomes, and uses renewable resources for the most sustainable living.

Consumers and specifiers should also consider the carbon-emissions produced by manufacturers in the production of paint products. Paints are now available that have been independently certified carbon-neutral.
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